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Health & Exercise Forum

Walk with a Doc

Jun 17, 2019

National Program Comes to NEPA by way of GCSOM

Special Feature “ Health & Exercise Forum” with Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine the 3rd Monday of every month!

Cecelia Strauch, MD2

Cecelia Strauch, MD2 of Factoryville is a member of GCSOM’s MD Class of 2021. She is a member of GCSOM’s Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG), and served as co-president in 2017-18.  She attended Lackawanna Trail High School in Factoryville, and received her undergraduate education at the University of Scranton from which she graduated with majors in biology and philosophy and a minor in Spanish Language.

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM) is teaming up with The Wright Center for Community Health to encourage Scranton residents to take a step toward better health with Walk with a Future Doc, a health program that brings medical students, doctors and patients together to walk every fourth Saturday monthly at 9 a.m. at one of two partner sites: Lackawanna River Heritage Trail at West Olive Street or Backcourt Hoops at 5 West Olive Plaza.

The initiative is led by GCSOM medical student, Cecelia Strauch of Factoryville, a member of the Class of 2021.

Walk with a Doc is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages and reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle in order to improve the health and well-being of the country.

“This program has had tremendous participation and success in hundreds of cities around the country,” said Jennifer Joyce, MD, professor of family medicine at GCSOM. “I’m very pleased to bring this exciting and simple program to Scranton because it has shown such improved health results for countless people around the country.”

The walk is open to the community and each walk will feature a short educational talk about a health topic of interest to participants. Participation is free and pre-registration is not required. Walkers will enjoy a refreshing and rejuvenating walk with medical students and healthcare professionals from GCSOM and The Wright Center for Community Health, who will provide support to participants and answer questions during the walk.

“Walk with a Doc is honored to team up with the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. By incorporating this program into the practice, GCSOM is demonstrating an exceptional level of care and commitment to their community,” said Dr. David Sabgir, founder of Walk with a Doc.

Scranton joins a growing list of communities nationwide that have started local Walk with a Doc (WWAD) programs. WWAD was created by Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist with Mount Carmel Health Systems in Columbus, Ohio.  He has walked with patients and community members every weekend since 2005.

Learn more about Walk with a Doc at

Benefits of Walking

“There’s no question that increasing exercise, even moderately, reduces the risks of many diseases, including coronary heart disease, breast and colon cancer, and Type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Jennifer Joyce, MD, professor of family medicine at GCSOM. “Research has even shown that you could gain two hours of life for each hour that you exercise regularly.”

According to the American Heart Association, walking as little as 30 minutes a day can provide the following benefits:

  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Help maintain a healthy body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well-being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis

Use Efficient Technique

Proper walking technique

Like everything, there is a right way of doing something, even walking. For efficiency and safety, walking with proper stride is important. A fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. Ideally, here's how you'll look when you're walking:

  • Head up, look forward – glance at the ground but don’t stare down.
  • Relax your neck, shoulders and back – avoid a rigid upright posture.
  • Swing your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows.
  • Keep your stomach muscles are slightly tightened (work the core) with a straight back.
  • Walking smoothly - rolling your foot from heel to toe.

Plan Ahead

  • Gear Up – but don’t go overboard. Good running shoes with proper arch support and shock absorption. Wear weather appropriate dry tech clothing with bright, reflective visible colors.
  • Select the Best Path – begin on level surfaces like a “rails to trails.” In inclement weather consider walking in a shopping mall.
  • Warm up. Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise.
  • Cool down. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down.
  • Stretch. After you cool down, gently stretch your muscles. If you want to stretch before you walk, remember to warm up first.

Set Realistic Goals

Anything is better than nothing! However, for most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. Also aim to do strength training exercises of all major muscle groups at least two times a week.

As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If you can't set aside that much time, try several short sessions of activity throughout the day. Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefit.

Remember it's OK to start slowly — especially if you haven't been exercising regularly. You might start with five minutes a day the first week, and then increase your time by five minutes each week until you reach at least 30 minutes.

For even more health benefits, aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

Track Your Progress

Keeping a record of how many steps you take, the distance you walk and how long it takes can help you see where you started from and serve as a source of inspiration. Record these numbers in a walking journal or log them in a spreadsheet or a physical activity app. Another option is to use an electronic device such as a pedometer or fitness tracker to calculate steps and distance

Source: Mayo Clinic

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

Keep moving, eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and live long and well!

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.