Years ago (in 2005 to be exact), Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio, was extremely frustrated with his inability to affect behavior change in the clinical setting.

You see, Dr. Sabgir often counseled his heart patients to get exercise -- go for a walk, lift weights, ride a bike, do aerobics -- something to help their hearts and bodies to better handle the modern day stresses.

But after years of being ignored, Dr. Sabgir decided advice was not enough.

He invited his patients to go for a walk with him in a local park on a spring Saturday morning. To his surprise, over 100 people showed up, energized and ready to move.

That was the start of the Walk With A Doc program, which has chapters all over the country now. And the marriage of "Walk With A Doc" and the celebration of today's National Walking Day has turned into a perfect time to get people living a mostly sedentary lifestyle to get out and move.

The first Wednesday of April every year is National Walking Day. The American Heart Association sponsors this day to remind people about the health benefits of taking a walk. Wear your sneakers (or take them with you) to work, and at some point in the day, take a 30-minute walk.

The AHA offers these reasons why taking a walk can be beneficial to you:

  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Improved flexibility in joints
  • Stronger muscles
  • Improved mental health

And AHA also offers this advice on this day:

  • Wear comfortable clothes.
  • Take a friend to pass the time.
  • Make sure to stretch those muscles.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Move your arms, too.
  • Make sure you have good posture.

Marianne Hamilton, a St. George resident who just passed on her Ms. Senior Universe crown to a new winner, offers this advice:

"There are huge benefits, both physically and mentally," she said. "The physical side is pretty obvious, but the mental side is just as important."

From the New York Times:

For people in their 60s, regular walking appears to lower the risk of dementia. The finding, published in the medical journal Neurology, is the latest study to show that exercise helps delay some of the worst ravages of aging for both the body and the mind.

What’s important about the study is that it again shows exercise doesn’t have to be excruciating to reap the benefits. “It’s important to note that an easy-to-perform moderate activity like walking provided the same cognitive benefits as other, more demanding activities,” said study author Dr. Giovanni Ravaglia of University Hospital S. Orsola Malpighi, in Bologna, Italy.

Find a partner, grab the dog, throw on some sneakers and celebrate National Walking Day on one of the hundreds of paved trails in Southern Utah.

Oh, and for some inspiration:


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