SummaryJust Walk!, a free, informal walking program founded by a physician in Columbus, OH, encourages people to increase their physical activity by participating in Saturday morning walks with local physicians and other health care professionals. Participants receive free goods and services (e.g., healthy foods and beverages and blood pressure screenings) and have the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with participating physicians before and during the walk. Informal feedback suggests that the program has convinced a core group of participants to increase their physical activity and has helped a few individuals to lose a significant amount of weight.Suggestive: Results are anecdotal in nature. A more structured evaluation may be undertaken in the future.
Developing OrganizationsJust Walk! a Walk with a Doc Program
Date First Implemented2005
Problem AddressedObesity is a significant, national problem that is caused in part by low rates of physical activity.
- A national epidemic: According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis of 2009 data, 26.9 percent of U.S. adults are obese. The percent of persons overweight or obese ranged within the 50 states from 55.7 percent to 70.3 percent, with Ohio ranked 40th in the nation (66.8 percent).1
- Low rate of physical activity as a contributing factor: Lack of physical activity can contribute to weight gain. In 2007, only about half of Ohio residents met recommendations for physical activity, defined as 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity at least 5 days a week, or 20 minutes a day of vigorous intensity activity at least 3 days a week.2
Description of the Innovative ActivityJust Walk!—a free, informal walking program founded by a physician in Columbus, OH,—encourages people to increase their physical activity by participating in Saturday morning walks with local physicians and other health care professionals. Participants receive free goods and services (e.g., blood pressure screenings and healthy foods and beverages) and have the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with and learn from participating physicians before and during the walk. Key elements include the following:
- Walk schedule and logistics: Walks are held on a weekly basis, typically Saturday mornings, year-round. The walks take place in local parks across the country. During inclement weather, walks are held indoors at local shopping malls or medical buildings. The program, which is not affiliated with any medical practice, hospital, or other organization, has sponsored hundreds of walks since 2005; typically between 50 and 200 walkers participate each week at any given location.
- Marketing the walks: Regular participants are reminded about the upcoming walk via e-mail. New walkers are recruited through stories and public service announcements run by local television news affiliates, radio stations, and print media. The program's Web site and word-of-mouth advertising also generate participation.
- Incentives to participate: Walkers receive free food and beverages (coffee, water, fruit, and granola), pedometers, blood pressure screenings, and recipes and information about making positive lifestyle changes.
- Educational presentations and discussion: The walks are structured to facilitate learning among participants. At the beginning of each walk, a clinician offers a 10- to 15-minute talk on a topic of interest, such as sleep apnea, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, fish oil, alcohol, caffeine, and mainstream health-related news. Participating clinicians have included cardiologists, orthopedic surgeons, endocrinologists, pharmacists, and others. When another clinician cannot be scheduled, the founding physician serves as the speaker. During the walk, walkers are encouraged to speak informally with participating physicians about healthy lifestyle choices and health issues (no medical advice is given). When necessary, participants are advised to contact their own physician for advice and care.
Contact the InnovatorKathryn Stephens
Walk with a Doc
495 Cooper Road
Westerville, OH 43081
David Sabgir, MD
Walk with a Doc
495 Cooper Road
Westerville, OH 43081
Innovator DisclosuresMs. Stephens and Dr. Sabgir have not indicated whether they have financial interests or business/professional affiliations relevant to the work described in this profile; however, information on funders is available in the Funding Sources section.
ResultsThe program has proven popular with hundreds of walkers; each walk typically attracts at least a dozen new participants as well. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the program has encouraged participants to increase their physical activity, and many walkers have lost between 50 and 75 pounds.Suggestive: Results are anecdotal in nature. A more structured evaluation may be undertaken in the future.
Context of the InnovationJust Walk! was founded by David Sabgir, MD, a cardiologist with Clinical Cardiology Specialists, a 10-physician cardiology group associated with Mount Carmel Saint Ann's in Columbus, OH. Dr. Sagbir cared for many obese and overweight individuals in his practice, whom he regularly encouraged to improve eating habits and engage in more physical activity. Although these patients would seem positive about making lifestyle changes, they would typically return for 6-month follow up appointments weighing the same or more than they did at the previous visit. Dr. Sabgir thought that offering to walk with these patients would encourage them to become more active and give him additional opportunities to convince them to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Planning and Development ProcessKey elements of the planning and development process included the following:
- Initiating the program: Approximately 2 months before the first walk, Dr. Sabgir asked his office manager to put a flyer on the office door advertising the walks; the flyer stated that Dr. Sabgir would be walking at the park every Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. beginning on a certain date. Dr. Sabgir also mentioned the walking program at the end of every patient visit, and offered to add interested patients to an e-mail reminder list. Dr. Sabgir also called a local television affiliate before the first walk to solicit media coverage of the program.
- Soliciting sponsorships: Dr. Sabgir periodically solicits corporate sponsorship of the program to cover the costs of the weekly snack, other small program giveaways, and Web site maintenance. Examples of sponsors include Pfizer, Merck, and Astra Zeneca. Not all potential sponsors, however, are accepted; for example, a local fast-food chain expressed interest, but the idea was rejected based on concerns about sending a mixed message regarding healthy lifestyle choices.
- Ensuring ongoing participation: Dr. Sabgir periodically calls local television news affiliates, radio stations, and print media to suggest stories and request public service announcements. He also encourages participants to bring friends and family to the walks.
- Recruiting physicians to participate: Dr. Sabgir personally calls colleagues to ask them to participate and also periodically contacts medical residents at local hospitals and physicians at the Columbus Free Clinic to request their participation.
Resources Used and Skills Needed
- Staffing: Dr. Sabgir spends approximately 20 hours a week organizing speakers and otherwise preparing for the walks; his office manager provides a small amount of assistance as well. In 2009, he added a program director. Participating physicians donate their time during the walks. Additional assistance, including generating publicity for the program, making snacks, and performing other needed tasks, is provided by Dr. Sabgir's family members. All physicians, nurses, staff are volunteers. The expansion of the program has increased to over 81 walks in 23 states and 4 countries.
- Costs: Each walk has costs for healthy snacks/drinks at approximately $100/walk. Each site must have Liability Insurance. The cost for the coverage is $225/year. Other costs not associated with each walk site are the Web site, shipping, merchandise and general admin/overhead.
Funding SourcesDavid Sabgir, MD
In 2009, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield began providing funds for the program. With this support, toolkits were developed to send across the country to interested physicians to help start local programs. Additionally, Fleet Feet (sporting goods), Pepsi, Takeda, Mount Carmel Health System, and HCR ManorCare have provided financial support for the walks. Before external funding, Dr. Sabgir would pay for all food and other supplies.
Tools and Other ResourcesMore information on the program can be found at http://www.walkwithadoc.org/.
Getting Started with This Innovation
- Solicit local media attention to build name recognition: Television, radio, and newspaper coverage were critical to generating public interest and recognition of the program.
- Focus on physician recruitment: Actively recruiting physicians to join the walks and/or to speak briefly on a topic of interest is key to making the program interesting to would-be participants. In addition to professional colleagues, medical students, and free clinic physicians may also be interested in participating.
- Do not (inadvertently) create barriers to participation: For example, bringing a scale for "weigh-ins" may deter some individuals from participating.
Sustaining This Innovation
- Keep the focus on improving health and encouraging communication: The program is designed to encourage physical activity and communication between doctors and patients; it is not intended to be a way to generate referrals or profits.
Use By Other Organizations
- In 2011, there were 45 active walk programs with over 1,492 walks that reached 44,760 walkers.
- In 2012, there are 81 active walk programs (updated October 2012).
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Service Delivery Innovation Profile
Original publication: September 29, 2008.
Original publication indicates the date the profile was first posted to the Innovations Exchange.
Last updated: November 07, 2012.
Last updated indicates the date the most recent changes to the profile were posted to the Innovations Exchange.
Date verified by innovator: October 09, 2012.
Date verified by innovator indicates the most recent date the innovator provided feedback during the annual review process. The innovator is invited to review, update, and verify the profile annually.