Q: During a recent walk at Mason Mill Park I saw an AARP and Walk with a Doc banner. Can you tell me about this?
A: This event at Mason Mill Park is led by Carolyn Hartfield every Wednesday and is called "Just Walk" and sponsored by AARP.
Walk with a Doc was started in 2005 by Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio. Frustrated with his inability to affect behavior change in the clinical setting, Sabgir invited his patients to go for a walk with him in a local park on a spring Saturday morning.
To his surprise, over 100 people showed up, energized and ready to move, according to the group’s website walkwithadoc.org.
Carolyn Hartfield, AARP volunteer and certified health coach, started the walk on the paved trail at Mason Mill Park.
On leading “Just Walk,” Hartfield said, “No RSVP – Just show up. Come dressed in weather-appropriate clothing and comfortable walking shoes. Make sure you hydrate the day before with the summer heat.”
One of her mottos is: “We are as fast as the slowest person.”
The walks are not timed. There are options beginning with just under two miles up to about five.
There are benches along the way for those that need to rest.
Doctors are invited to join in the walk. Hartfield says they get a variety of the types of doctors who participate.
“We all share what each person does,” she said.
Each week a different topic is discussed. She keeps the topics around a national or health-related issue.
Mason Mill has it’s own park ranger, Jonah McDonald, who also joins in the walk.
Hartfield said, “McDonald is a naturalist as well and during the walk he will share with us about the different plants, the history of the park and things like that.”
Outdoor activities opens up the mind and provides many health benefits.
“Camaraderie, conversation and socialization … people don’t realize they are going beyond what they felt they could do.
“It all works together,” said Hartfield.
“Just Walk” is held at 9 a.m. every Wednesday at Mason Mill Park. In October the time changes to 10 a.m.
Meet at the South Peachtree Creek trailhead near the Mason Mill Tennis Center (1400 McConnell Drive, Decatur). Kids and pets are welcome.
For more information, visit walkwithadoc.org or call Mason Mill Park at 404-679-1349.
New to the area or simply have a question about this place we call home? Email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.