Edmonton

Edmonton-area doc walking the walk when it comes to care

The cold snap may mean many of us aren't getting outside to exercise, but a free program is helping Albertans get fit no matter the weather.

'If I wasn’t here, I’d be sitting at home. Then what would I do? They'll bury me next year'

Dr. Trevor Byers, far right, joins a group of participants with the 'Walk with a Doc' program. (Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network)

Bill Adair laces up his blue running shoes and hits the indoor track at the Leduc Recreation Centre.

"I used to run this track, but that's a while back." 

Now in his 80s, Adair spent 35 years working on oil rigs. He now considers maintaining his health his job and walking is how he's doing it. 

"It makes a difference, sure. If I wasn't here, I'd be sitting at home. Then what would I do? They'll bury me next year, this year probably."

Adair credits Walk with a Doc with much of his get up and go.

Learn more about the 'Walk with a Doc' program operating out of the Leduc Recreation Centre in Leduc, Alta. 1:45

The program was started in 2005 by Dr. David Sabgir, an Ohio cardiologist, said Leduc-based family physician Dr. Trevor Byers.

"He was having a hard time getting his patients to adopt a healthy lifestyle. He felt he would talk to them and then they wouldn't do it, so he started inviting them to walk with him in the park," Byers said. 

There are now 500 Walk with a Doc chapters worldwide with nine in Canada. 

"Last I checked, I believe we're the only one in Alberta right now," said Byers, who has been practicing in the community south of Edmonton since 2000.

The free, weekly walk-and-talks, running since 2016, draw between five and 40 community members. 

Byers gives a short lecture on hot topics in health and then the group takes a stroll. 

Bill Adair walks the track at the Leduc Recreation Centre with the 'Walk with a Doc' program. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

"I tend to be fairly solitary so it does force me to get out and socialize and talk to people more than I would normally," Byers admits. 

"It's been a great success," said Lee Ann Weller, manager of business services at the Leduc Recreation Centre.

"It's been really well received, lots of positive comments. Dr. Byers is very passionate. I think he makes the program."

As for Byers, seeing people in his community benefit from exercise is a real pay off. 

"Walking makes a huge difference," he said. 

"It helps you sleep better; it's good for your lungs; it's good for your heart; it's good for your blood pressure, good for your muscles; it helps your balance," and the list goes on, Byers said.

You can see more from the Leduc Recreation Centre Saturday at 10 a.m. and Monday and Friday at 11 a.m. on CBC TV and live on CBC GEM.

About the Author

Adrienne Lamb is an award-winning journalist based in Edmonton. She's the host and producer of Our Edmonton featured weekly on CBC TV. Adrienne has spent the last couple of decades telling stories across Canada.

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