I smiled.

The sky was cloudy. There was a hint of humidity in the air. Birds were singing above our heads. We set up the table with water bottles, a sign-in and pedometers to give away. The blood pressure cuff sat on the bench with the hanging banner behind that read “Walk with a Doc.”

They smiled.

Participants began to gather and chat. Our group was made up of patients from my small and growing integrative family medicine practice, some return walkers from last month’s first walk, health care professionals, a couple of curious champions of health and a few energetic children. They first listened as I taught them a relaxing breath exercise and then we hit the trail.

We smiled.

Passers-by looked at our matching t-shirts quickly. Some would do a double take and ask where the dog was. We realized they thought our shirts said “Walk with a dog.” That seems to make more sense. We walk with our dogs. Why in the world would you walk with a doc?

Here’s why:

Medicine is complex. Our bodies and our lives have lots of things going on at the same time. A doctor’s visit is layered with plans, tests, diagnostic codes and so much more. And we keep adding new layers, with our technology and advances in research. And it seems the advice sometimes is conflicting.

One day the news has research on a perfect “cure” and then more research comes out disputing it. But there is always one consistent message, one noncontroversial “treatment” that has survived the years of medical advancement and the lines of physician specialty. This prescription is on everyone’s “treatment plan” whether they have hypertension, diabetes, depression, vascular disease, anxiety, or just want to stay healthy.

Exercise. Get out and walk.

Walk with a doc makes perfect sense. It’s a simple prescription and a way for me to smile with my patients. That is why I do a walk like this every month and hope many more will join us.