Texas Physicians Walk the Talk

Nov. 21, 2013

$60,000 in Grants to Pave the Walkway 

 “Texas physicians can now improve the health of Texans, one walk at a time,” said Round Rock physician Susan Pike, MD, thanks to a new program aimed at getting people to walk with their physicians. 

Backed by $60,000 in new grant funding, the Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Board of Trustees voted to participate as an organization in the Walk With a Doc program, part of a national grassroots movement devoted to encouraging healthy physical activity. The basic concept is simple: Physicians organize walks in their communities and invite their patients and their patients' families to join them.

For the past year, TMA physicians have led pilot-program walks in Houston, Lubbock, and Georgetown. Dr. Pike, who hosted several Georgetown walks with her patients, said, “The program isn't about just weight loss or exercise. “It's about moving more, eating better, and learning about simple things we can do that can influence our health positively. These are the types of changes people can embrace that can lead to success.” Dr. Pike also is a consultant to TMA’s Council on Health Promotion, which first vetted the concept for TMA.   

TMA recently received funding to expand Walk With a Doc events in Texas. The Aetna Foundation awarded the TMA Foundation, the association’s philanthropic arm, $40,000. The TMA Foundation also added $20,000 to fund the program. The money will help TMA doctors host walks with their patients, as well as provide marketing and promotional materials, and cover insurance costs and technical support from the Walk With a Doc organization.

“As a doctor, I understand the challenge people face in changing their lifestyle to healthier behaviors,” said Garth Graham, MD, president of the Aetna Foundation. “The Walk With a Doc program shows great promise in providing people with ongoing motivation to live healthier lives. We are pleased to support the program’s expansion in Texas as part of our support for community-based programs that improve people’s health and well-being.” 

The Walk With a Doc organization, based in Ohio, aims to reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle and improve the health and well-being of people throughout America through monthly physician-led walks. Columbus, Ohio, cardiologist David Sabgir, MD, created Walk With a Doc in 2005.  

“Walk With a Doc allows physicians to interact with their patients outside the office, where they can see their doctors practice what they preach. What’s discussed in the office is put in motion outside the office,” said Debbie Fuller, MD, vice president of the TMA Foundation and immediate past chair of the TMA Council on Health Promotion. She said patients’ comments and questions during the walks tend to feed off of one another as they discuss general health and lifestyle issues with a person they trust — their physician. 

“It’s me and my patients, real-life in sweats together, just talking about health and well-being while we’re out getting exercise,” she said. 

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807

Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320


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