Dr. Amanda E. Nelson gets up early each third Saturday for her own good and others’. The assistant professor of medicine and researcher at the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center leads a group walk, rain or shine, at UNC Wellness Center at Meadowmont. As the Medical Advisor to the Osteoarthritis (OA) Action Alliance, she started the Walk with a Doc chapter in October 2015. “This was something I felt strongly about doing – for myself, several close relatives who have OA and my patients, but I was not sure how much support a new initiative like this might get, especially since I was the first rheumatologist in the U.S. to start a local chapter,” she says. Like the national program, the aim of the meetup is to show participants the health benefits of walking.
And it’s working. “After learning that managing weight is one way to relieve strain on joints, one of our participants took that information to heart and several months later shared their story of weight loss success due to walking monthly with us as well as independently,” she says. Long after the health tips are exchanged, the one-mile walk is complete and the group disbands, the program is paying off.
“A few of our participants have shared that they were afraid to walk,” she says. “They have been pleasantly surprised to find out that not only is walking recommended for arthritis, but that they feel better when they engage in regular physical activity.”