UPEI inviting Islanders to take a walk with a doctor

Islanders who are interested in being more active, or have health care questions they want to discuss are invited to do both at once, at a new monthly event at UPEI.

Walk with a Doc program offers a chance to ask health questions, while being active

UPEI assistant professor Travis Saunders is one of the organizers of a new monthly walking event, which will give people the chance to chat with a doctor. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Islanders who are interested in being more active, or have health care questions they want to discuss are invited to do both at once, at a new monthly event at UPEI.

Kinesiology P.E.I. is launching a series of events called Walk with a Doc — which includes a brief talk by a health-care professional, followed by a one-hour walk.

"We know that people are more likely to exercise when their doctor tells them to. But we also know that the biggest barrier to exercise is just people being too busy," said event organizer Travis Saunders, an assistant professor in applied human sciences at UPEI.

"When doctors tell people not only, 'exercise is important, you should do it,' but they know that their doctor is taking time out of their busy schedule on a weekend to come walk, it really shows people just how important it is, and really helps get people out."

Chance to ask questions 

Saunders said the idea was inspired by Walk with a Doc programs in the U.S., and more recently, in Nova Scotia. 

The first session, to take place Sept. 28, will be led by Dr. Melanie Banasch, who is organizing the program along with Saunders. During the walk, people can go at their own pace, and will have the chance to chat with Banasch about any questions they may have. 

The monthly walking event will be held at the UPEI outdoor track, and will move indoors in the winter. (Submitted by UPEI)

But, Saunders said, the sessions are not meant to serve as health-care appointments. 

"This is not a chance to come and you know, get your prescription filled or a referral. But it is a chance to come and ask questions about, you know, who should be getting vaccinations, or you know, things about cancer screenings. That sort of general health questions that you might not often have a chance to ask."

Saunders said each session will be led by at least one health-care professional. 

Encouraging active lifestyle 

Saunders said he hopes the sessions will encourage people to add more activity into their daily lives.

He said the program in Truro, N.S., has been going on for about three years. He said there is no official tracking of the participants, so there is no way to know for sure if the program has influenced their daily activity levels.

However, he said he is encouraged to hear that the events in Truro regularly attract 40 to 50 people each week. 

"It's been very successful in terms of people coming every single week walking together. So it's been very successful in that sense."

The P.E.I. sessions will be held on a monthly basis at UPEI, with the first event scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28, at 9 a.m. at the outdoor track. 

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