Sometimes, life provides exactly what many of us badly need. This appeared to be the case on a recent Saturday morning when I caught up with a group of walkers at the west end of the walking track at the Rath-Eastlink Community Centre.
It was 8.27 a.m., only minutes before “Walk With The Doc” was to begin. The exceptional program, consisting of enthusiastic walkers, doctors and medical specialists exercising together, kicked off approximately one year ago.
“I really appreciate the program,” said Carol Smith of Truro, as we walked around the track together. “For many of us this is a big part of our weekly schedule. It’s amazing that these doctors and medical people make time for us every week.”
Raj Makkar, manager of ambulatory care at Colchester East Hants Health Centre, recalled a conversation that took place in October 2016.
“Steve Ellis and I talk frequently at the hospital; he mentioned to me he had this idea he wanted to talk to me about.”
The idea was Walk With The Doc and Ellis and Makkar soon had the program organized and underway.
“We went into it with the mindset that if no one shows up, we would still be there exercising” said Makkar. “The program works because you have a doc or a physician who is passionate about exercise and getting people up and moving. Walking is a great way to begin and it has been going great; many people have been coming out. They seem to be saying ‘if my doctor is out there walking, then, I should be, too.’ The social aspect is important, too. People are having fun and this keeps them coming back.”
Annie Archibald, of Brookfield, agrees.
“It’s wonderful and more people should know about it,” she said. “Every week, besides walking, a doctor or specialist will give a talk on a medical issue or such. There is so much important information passed on and when we are walking with the doctors, a person can talk further regarding a question or an issue.”
Dr. Stephen Ellis, who grew up in Lincoln, New Brunswick and has doctored in Truro for 18 years, noted there’s been a positive response from the public.
“People still have respect for physicians; the real hope was that when people are given advice, they will listen. This was as simple as, rather than telling people to do something, saying ‘let’s go for a walk together.’ It meant something.”
According to Dr. Ellis, however, this isn’t necessarily a new initiative.
“It’s kind of funny, I thought this was an original idea but through research we found out there are other programs throughout North America. I found this David Shageir, a cardiologist in the United States; he was such an exciting guide. It was his inspiration that really had me taking this idea and going with it.
“Our local doctors have opened up their wallets and have been very supportive. And,
Matt Moore of the RECC has been great. It’s an hour a week we really look forward to; time seems to fly. It’s been a real community effort; things are going very well, absolutely.”
Rosemary MacGillivary of Onslow Mountain, had a hip replacement 18 months ago.
“This program has helped me a lot. I walk with the help of walking sticks. Another asset is having my seven-year-old grandson walk with me; it keeps me motivated. I really enjoy the talks by the medical people and the information shared by the doctors.”
Charlie Boyce, of Bible Hill, also enjoys the sessions
“I try to come every Saturday morning; I feel this is a way to try to keep my legs going, to keep them moving. I enjoy the program.”
Alex Rogers, of Truro, is a dietitian at Yarmouth Regional Hospital.
“When I am home I come out on Saturday mornings. I enjoy talking with everyone and helping if they have a question nutrition-related. This is a great program; the idea is to
encourage everyone to live a healthier lifestyle.”
Dr. Neil Bower, Dr. David Smith and Dr. Trevor Locke all walk regularly.
“There certainly is camaraderie,” Dr. Bower said. “The group looks forward to seeing each other on Saturdays. Physical activity is vitally important to our health. You’ll never get a prescription from me with fewer side effects and more proven benefits.”
Lyle Carter’s column appears every second Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.