St. Luke’s University Health Network doctors are on the move to show patients just how great walking is for your health. On Wednesday, April 4 in conjunction with the American Heart Association’s National Walking Day, the first in a series of “Walk with Your Doc” events will be held at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus.
After a brief program, participants will join Dwithiya Thomas, M.D., a cardiologist with St. Luke’s Cardiology Associates in Bethlehem, and Bonnie Coyle, M.D., Chairman of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, for a walk around the 2-mile walking trail on the Anderson Campus.
Jim Deegan, 51, of Easton, who was out of shape when he suffered his heart attack, will share his story about the importance of healthy living.
Two years ago, at the end of another long Monday at work, Deegan felt what he thought was indigestion.
“I had it before and ignored it and it always passed away after a little while,” he recalls. This time the pain got worse and didn’t stop. When he got home, his wife drove him to the emergency room at the Anderson campus where doctors diagnosed a heart attack. That Tuesday he underwent life-saving surgery to open a blockage in his left anterior descending artery, often referred to as the widow-maker. “I walked out of the hospital on Wednesday,” Deegan says.
Deegan has since lost about 60 pounds and exercises daily. He learned the best exercises and diet for him while attending cardiac rehab at St. Luke’s North.
“Cardiac rehab was a game-changer for me,” he says. He continues to exercise daily at a gym near where he lives and wants to share his story to encourage others to live healthy.
Dr. Thomas will kick off the event with a talk about the importance of combining good nutrition and exercise in the prevention and maintenance of heart health.
Dr. Thomas, a board member of the American Heart Association, says she is spearheading the event because she truly believes in the value of exercise.
“Exercise is paramount in the preservation of heart health,” she says. “Adding activity in the form of exercise to your daily life will significantly reduce your risk of developing heart attacks and strokes.”
Walk with Your Doc was started in 2005 by David Sabgir, M.D., a cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio. Frustrated with his inability to affect behavior change in the clinical setting, Dr. Sabgir invited his patients to go for a walk with him in a local park on a spring Saturday morning.
National Walking Day is part of the American Heart Association’s celebration of Move More Month in April, encouraging more Americans to get moving to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.
Subsequent Walk with a Doc events will be held Thursdays
After the first walk, St. Luke’s Walk with a Doc events will be held starting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays.
“Walks will be held from April 12, at least until Thursday, Sept. 27, rain or shine, at the Anderson Campus trail,” says Todd Nemura, Community Health Liaison. Everyone is welcome and to walk at his/her own pace.
There are benches around the trail where people can stop and rest if they would like. Different St. Luke’s physicians are scheduled to lead the walk and talks, Nemura says.
Walking is one of the best exercises because it engages many muscle groups all at once, Dr. Thomas says. “It is low impact on the joints and is something we all know how to do. By varying your speed, you can easily get the heart rate variability that is needed to condition your heart.”
Since research shows that exercising, especially outdoors, has numerous health benefits, St. Luke’s wants to provide individuals and families with programs that create and promote a culture of personal wellness and a sense of community.
Note: This story was contributed by St. Luke’s University Health Network. Its publication is part of a health news partnership between Saucon Source and SLUHN.