It’s been almost a year since a stalwart group of local women
have banded and bonded together for a vigorous group walk.
Every day, the group of care coordinators- nurses, pharmacists and coaches- get out of the office for a 2-mile walk around the Novant
Health Lakeside Family Physician offices in Cornelius, North Carolina.
“It’s about walking the talk,” said Meryl Cohen, a nurse who works with patients daily to help them better manage their health. It's part of a new model for patient care that is focused on promoting health instead of just treating disease.
Pharmacist Lori Uhlrich said she has benefitted from the
bonding that comes with walking. “I learn a lot about my team while walking.”
Plus, she added her blood pressure has improved and she finds she’s making
better dietary choices, too.
A new study
shows that people who participate in regular walks with friends and colleagues
get more than the benefit of companionship. Walkers were also at reduced risk
for stroke, heart disease and depression.
Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the
study looked at 42 other studies involving more than 1,800 participants in 14
countries. Some of the participants in the studies had chronic conditions such
as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Researchers found that participants in walking groups that
stepped out regularly, even if it was less than hour of exercise, had lower
blood pressure, lower cholesterol and better resting heart rates. Plus, the
walkers saw reduced body fat and lower body mass index numbers.
The researchers also noted that 75 percent of the
participants in the study kept to their walking routines, suggesting that
people are likely to stick to this form of exercise.
“These findings show that the dynamics and social cohesion
of walking in groups may produce additional advantages,” said Sarah Hanson, one
of the lead researchers of the study, in a press release. “People who walk in
groups also tend to have a more positive attitude toward physical activity and
say they feel less lonely and isolated.”
The group of Novant Health team members in Cornelius decided
to get together regularly after one of their colleagues had a pulmonary
And they found they enjoyed the activity. “It’s a great
stress reliever and it clears the brain,” Cohen said.
Marianne Soderman, another walker and care coordinator, said she has found that walking rejuvenates her.
It doesn’t hurt that the neighborhood they walk is
attractive, admitted Charlette Johnson-Smith, a care coordinator who
takes part in the group walks.
When they don’t have time to join the daily walking ritual,
the women will take a break from their desks and walk up and down the stairs
for two minutes.
Looking to boost their level of activity, many other workers
outside of Novant Health are banding together to take a brisk walk on their
breaks – and for good reason. Another study
released in January suggested that just 20 minutes of brisk walking a day can
reduce the risk of death caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines
on physical activity recommend Americans engage in at least 150 minutes of
moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. However, a Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention
report found that nearly half of adults didn’t meet the recommendation in
In a day’s busy schedule, it can be hard to fit in exercise,
but research shows – and the Novant Health group walkers in Cornelius agree –
that every little bit of activity helps the mind and the body.