Chat with a doctor while getting your steps.
Many male sexual health problems, like low testosterone and erectile dysfunction, are closely tied to inactivity and weight gain, says Mark Paulos ’93, MD, co-director of the Men’s Health Center at The Miriam Hospital. So during patient visits, he delves into lifestyle issues. “Patients are really receptive to that,” the clinical assistant professor of medicine says. “They’re happy to be empowered, to leave the office with skills to be healthy … and to not go home with another script for more pills.” While he can refer them to psychology, physical therapy, sleep medicine, even a dietitian at his clinic, “the one thing that we didn’t have to offer patients was anything for physical activity,” he says. Then three years ago he learned about Walk with a Doc, a program that’s as simple as it sounds: twice a month a group meets up with a doctor, briefly discusses a health topic, and goes for a walk. “What could be easier?” Paulos says. He says some patients take a little convincing: “A lot of men think exercise is the gym, it’s lifting weights.” But they quickly become converts. “It really is the exercise, it’s the time in nature, it’s the socializing … the combined health benefit of that one hour is so fantastic,” Paulos says. “Helping people to adopt changes in their day-to-day life—that’s really what impacts health.”
Paulos grew up playing sports—“soccer, football, basketball, rugby, you name it.” Now with two knee surgeries behind him, he bikes, goes to the gym, and “I’m walking a lot.”
The group meets on the new pedestrian bridge across from the Medical School and winds its way around the East Side. “Some people may not live in a neighborhood where it’s safe to walk,” Paulos says.
If Paulos cancels due to weather, he gets complaints: “‘Come on, we can still do it, it’s not too cold!’ There’s definitely a core group of diehards.”
A True Yinzer
“It’s miserable to live around so many Patriots fans, being a Steeler fan for life. It’s one of the worst parts of being in Rhode Island,” admits Paulos, who’s from Pittsburgh. “At least Brady’s gone.”
Need for Speed
People in the group walk at any pace, and Paulos tries to mingle. “I’ll occasionally [join]the fast walkers, but they leave everybody behind,” he says.