Walking regularly helps keep Linda Fredericks active and healthy.
But this morning, the 68-year-old is gaining peace of mind, too, while she strolls the paved paths at BREC’s Perkins Road Community Park.
Fredericks’ walking partner is Dr. Rebecca Treuil, a local internist who can discuss all the health-related questions that have popped up since her last checkup.
The pair connected at the park’s March 5 Walk with a Doc event, which matches area doctors with those who enjoy exercise and want to chat with a doctor without making an appointment.
“I hate to waste a doctor’s time for insignificant items,” Fredericks says. “I’m a healthy person, so I don’t have much need to go to the doctor.”
This sunny morning, three doctors stroll with a dozen men and women, answering questions about blood pressure and cholesterol and a few more personal health issues.
For Fredericks, talking to a doctor is less scary than looking up symptoms on the Internet.
“It’s like reading the label on a bottle of medicine,” Fredericks says. “The last thing is ‘You might die.’”
Treuil chose to attend the state’s first Walk with a Doc event because she knows people need an opportunity to talk with doctors outside of an office without paying or billing their insurance.
“It gives the patients a time to ask questions without a co-pay,” Treuil says. “It’s a very stress-free environment and anxiety-free environment where they can ask anything and not feel judged.”
Walk with a Doc began in 2005 when an Ohio doctor took a hike and invited the community to come along. The first week 101 people showed up, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. Since then, the program has spread around the world. BREC, the Capital Area Medical Society and the Louisiana State Medical Society have teamed up to bring the program to East Baton Rouge.
Doctors usually tell patients to exercise more for better health. Walk with a Doc allows them to model it.
“We don’t just preach about you getting healthy,” says Dr. Carol Patin, an obstetrician and gynecologist. “We’re going to do this with you.”
While simple, walking is a great exercise for nearly everyone, Patin says, because it requires no specialized equipment or training.
“Walking is the best exercise everybody can do,” she says. “There are about 40 diseases that can be cured or helped out with walking.”
The Louisiana State Medical Society plans to schedule Walk with a Doc events in several Louisiana cities, says Jeff Williams, CEO of the society. Walk with a Doc matches BREC’s mission of creating a healthier community, says Carolyn Mc-Knight, superintendent of the parish park system.
“If our (health) numbers are where they say they are — at the top of the bad list — it’s time we do something about it,” McKnight says.
During his stroll, Ray LeBouef, 57, asks the doctors about his family history, people with diabetes and high blood pressure.
“They can give you some pretty basic answers and they can let you know if you should take it a step forward and make an office visit and get some tests done,” he says. “It’s a good idea for getting started on the right trail.”
McKnight says Walk with a Doc events are going to be a regular program in East Baton Rouge Parish. Another meet-up is planned for April 2 at the Zippity Zoo Fest at the BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo.
Dr. Akayla Robinson plans to be there, and she welcomes the opportunity to chat.
“You shouldn’t be afraid to ask your doctor or any doctor about your health,” she says. “That’s what we’re here for.”