If you’re a patient of Dr. David Sabgir’s, you might find yourself doing just that. Every Saturday at 8:30 a.m., rain or shine, Dr. Sabgir heads out on a walk at Highbanks Metropolitan Park in Lewis Center, Ohio, with 175 to 200 patients, neighbors, friends and family members.
Three years ago, after unsuccessfully admonishing his patients to lose weight, Dr. Sabgir had a flash of insight. Why not walk with his patients every Saturday morning? During the walk, patients, along with their family and friends, would have the opportunity to talk with medical professionals to learn how to take care of their health. By becoming more active, patients could alter the course of anticipated heart disease and improve the quality of their lives.
The project quickly became a family affair. Dr. Sabgir’s wife, Kristin, began bringing lower-calorie fare to the walks to demonstrate healthy snacks. Alexandria (age 9) and Charlie (age 7) joined the walks. Dr. Sabgir’s father telephones weekly reminders to participants without access to e-mail. Other volunteers who joined the effort include nurses who provide free blood-pressure checks, an exercise physiologist who leads and closes the program with appropriate stretches and sponsors who provide free pedometers. Healthy recipes, samples of the recipes and nutritional weight-loss tips are provided each week. Participants can also receive a free one-hour counseling session with a registered dietician.
Dr. Sabgir, a board-certified cardiologist, practices with clinical cardiology specialists at McConnell Heart Hospital and Grady Memorial Hospital. Through these organized weekly walks, Dr. Sabgir has found a way to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages, sizes, shapes, physical conditions, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Dr. Sabgir considers the diversity of the walking group to be its strength. He says, “The diversity of the group is most apparent when you see a young mother pushing her newborn in a stroller alongside a couple in their 90s. Both obese walkers and endurance athletes share in the benefit of education and exercise.”
With Ohio’s obesity rate approaching 27 percent, Dr. Sabgir has a big job. His state ranks 17th among the 50 states. Moreover, the numbers on the scales of Ohio citizens—and of the rest of the nation—are heading up. Even more worrisome is the fact that interventions—whether undertaken by medical personnel, private companies or government entities—have yet to reverse the trend. Dr. Sabgir’s has designed his volunteer efforts to do just that by creating a greater awareness and commitment to health among residents in his community.
Besides making new friends and having fun, patients learn the medical benefits of walking. Exercise helps patients feel less tired, decreases stress, aids in weight loss and weight control, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels and improves circulation.
"I have two doctors, my left leg and my right."
G. M. Trevelyan