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The White Coats Are Coming! (Walking Briskly Around The Common With The Surgeon General Tomorrow)

They’re calling it the “White Coats, White Sneakers” Walk. I think I’d call it the “Walking the Walk” Walk. That is to say: If you’re in health care, it’s not enough just to tell your patients to exercise. You have to “just do it” yourself.

Tomorrow (Friday) at about noon, a passel of local health care leaders, providers and even a few patients plan to march energetically for about a mile around The Boston Common, along with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. As they walk, some will hand out paper prescriptions for exercise and healthier lifestyles.

Sure, it’s a stunt — engineered by the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital– but you can’t argue with the goal of getting more people in our obesogenic nation to exercise. And it highlights some persuasive findings about how health care providers are in a unique position to help make that happen.

“We have data that the healthier you are, the healthier your patients will be,” said Dr. Eddie M. Phillips, head of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine. “Physicians and other health care providers need to become even better role models than we already are in prescribing exercise, asking about someone’s level of exercise and doing it ourselves.”

He’s got some highly prominent role models signed up for the walk tomorrow, including medical school deans, state public health commissioner John Auerbach, Boston public health chief Barbara Ferrer, Partners Healthcare chief Gary Gottlieb and Brigham and Women’s president Elizabeth Nabel. (Official info on the walk is here.) Continue reading