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Walk with a Doc -- Advancing Wellness Through Nature

September 01, 2021 12:00 AM

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​Trails Month in Pennsylvania kicks off today and lasts throughout the month of September.

Walking is one of the best things you can do for your health, and numerous studies point to the health benefits of spending time in nature.

That message is certainly being reinforced during the pandemic, right?

So, to help highlight the connection between the outdoors and health, and celebrate Trails Month, DCNR is joining with Walk with a Doc, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, and Geisinger for the first ever series of statewide Walk with a Doc -- Advancing Wellness through Nature events.

Launch Event Held in Danville

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DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn helped kick off the first of the statewide “Walk with a Doc” programs during a stroll last week at the Hess Recreation Area in Montour County.

Dr. Michael Suk, chief physician officer and chair of Geisinger’s Musculoskeletal Institute and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, led the walk.

The hikers walked for about a mile and a half, for about 30 minutes -- which will be a typical length and time for walks occurring around the state.

Geisinger President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jaewon Ryu, who addressed the walkers before the event, said “We’re a big fan of getting upstream of preventative health.”

Health Benefits of Trails

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Getting regular physical activity on trails helps:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Control weight
  • Reduce risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers
  • Strengthen bones and muscles
  • Improve mental health and mood
  • Improve sleep quality 
  • Increase your chances of living longer
  • Increase positive feelings about quality of life
  • Keep your lungs healthy

Meeting Pennsylvania’s Goals for Outdoor Recreation

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The Pennsylvania Walk with a Doc September events help meet a goal of the Statewide Outdoor Recreation Plan -- Recreation for All to continue to strengthen connections between outdoor recreation and health in communities for people of all ages and abilities.

When the plan was unveiled, Dr. Suk challenged Pennsylvanians to improve their mental and physical wellbeing through time outdoors. The partnership evolved under Dr. Suk’s leadership.

After relationships are established with doctors, the hope is that this one-time event will become a year-round program to promote the physical, psychological, and emotional benefits of being outside and highlight the terrific parks and trails found in Pennsylvania.

Find a Walk with a Doc Event in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania’s events are a part of the international Walk with a Doc program.

In communities around the globe, doctors gather at least once a month to give a brief presentation on a health topic and then lead participants on a walk at their own pace.

Advancing Wellness Through Nature events involving partnerships between park and recreation organizations and community medical professionals are shaping up and should number around 40. Check the DCNR Calendar of Events for one near you.

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