CANAL FULTON  Who doesn’t love an early morning walk with friends and family? The only thing that could make the walk better is to have a doctor walking with you. The residents at the Chapel Hill Community in Canal Fulton agree and are participating in the Walk with a Doc program.

The first Monday morning of every month, a group gathers in the community center located on the grounds to hear a short talk about health and then they all take a walk around the area together. Marketing director Jerry Martin has been organizing the walks with Dr. Aruna Rao, a nocturnist at Mercy Medical. 

On June 3, Dr. Rao started the Monday morning walk with a talk about decreasing salt in one’s diet and using alternate seasonings to give food flavor. During the talk, everyone gets their blood pressure checked.

Walkers are also encouraged to take a free t-shirt and other swag provided by the program.

“Everyone is welcome to join us on any first Monday of the month,” said Dr. Rao. “Moms, kids, grandkids, anyone and everyone is welcome to join us. Participants can walk as much as they want and at any speed.”

The residents usually walk around the grounds of the Chapel Hill Community. Dr. Rao said she would like to organize a couple of walks in local parks or one of the many local events.

According to walkwithadoc.org, the program is a national initiative that, “aims to make hope and health accessible to all, doctor-led walking groups are a safe, fun, and FREE place to get some steps, learn about health, and meet new friends.” 

There is a place on the website where persons can find a local Walk with a Doc by clicking on Join a Walk and then entering a zip code.

The walkwithadoc.org website lists a number of benefits to walking. Rao said some of the top health benefits include the following:

- Moving and exercising is important at all ages

- Walking is a low-impact form of exercise that participants can go at their own speed and do as much as they can.

- Improves circulation

- Improves balance and movement

- Controls cholesterol by lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol

- Prevents and reduces high blood pressure