Program encourages physical activity, community | Outdoors

On a glorious fall afternoon last Sunday at Washington Park, a couple dozen people gathered…

Program encourages physical activity, community | Outdoors

On a glorious fall afternoon last Sunday at Washington Park, a couple dozen people gathered to talk about health and go for a walk amid the falling leaves.

Walk with a Doc is a national program that’s been meeting in Laramie for the last few years, organized by Dr. Emma Bjore, a geriatrician at Ivinson Memorial Hospital. Twice a month, participants gather at the park for a talk by a local health care provider before walking laps on the sidewalk.

Walk with a Doc is scheduled for 1:30-2:30 p.m. the first and third Sundays of the month. Starting Oct. 18, the event will move to the south gym of the Laramie Plains Civic Center, 710 E. Garfield St.

During Sunday’s session, Jake Marlow, a physical therapy assistant at High Country Physical Therapy, talked about the importance of knowing one’s physical limits in order to avoid injury and gain strength.

“Having a higher threshold helps us manage the easy things and do it for longer,” he said.

Then he led the group in a series of warm-up exercises — lunges and knee pulls — to prepare for the walking session.

Riley Smith, a patient-care technician at IMH, said participants enjoy learning about a variety of topics related to healthy living.

“They want to hear from different health care providers in the community on all sorts of topics,” she said.

Sabine Schenck, who works at the Wyoming Center on Aging at the University of Wyoming, said the program also allows people to be active together and build community.

“Everybody does their own pace,” she said.

After warming up, participants grabbed bottle water, granola bars and a free T-shirt before breaking into smaller groups and pairs to walk. Estella Spertzel and Helen Sussenguth have been walking together in the mornings for years. They said they enjoy Walk with a Doc because they love the speakers.

“They provide information to keep us healthy,” Spertzel said.

Sally Palmer, another longtime participant and regular walker, said exercise and social contact are some of the best ways to stay healthy.

“When you’re with other people, your brain is sharper and your attitude is better, so it’s good to do this with a group,” she said.