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Talk and Walk with a Doc

Elyssa Thompson

Join cardiologist Elissa Thompson, MD, and a park ranger for the outdoor wellness series held at Cape Cod National Seashore.

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Published on May 10, 2022

Healthy Parks, Healthy People 2022 kicks off with “Talk and Walk with a Doc”Healthy Parks, Healthy People

Your first step toward better health could be in the company of a cardiologist and a park ranger.

A new outdoor wellness series, Talk and Walk with a Doc, is part of the 2022 Healthy Parks, Healthy People program, a partnership between Cape Cod Healthcare and Cape Cod National Seashore. The first session will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 21, at Salt Pond Visitor Center, Eastham, and features a short talk about the connection between wellness and activity by Elissa Thompson, MD, a cardiologist at the Cape Cod Healthcare Cardiovascular Centers in Hyannis and Chatham.

A ranger-led trail walk of two miles will immediately follow her talk.

“Whether it's cardiovascular health, your blood pressure, your blood sugar or your body mass index, any amount of walking is going to improve those parameters,” said Dr. Thompson.

“We also know that people who sit for long periods of time suffer from obesity more frequently. They suffer from diabetes more frequently. They suffer from musculoskeletal ailments, whether it's in their cervical spine or their lumbar spine.”

Sitting is a very negative state of physiology, and walking is the opposite, she said.

“Whether it's parking further away from the front door of the grocery store or hiking in the woods or on a beach, exercise is going to counter the negative effects of being sedentary,” she said. “I encourage people to make use of the beautiful locations that we have available to us at the Cape Cod National Seashore. Good health is easily accessible and doesn't require special equipment. You can use the outside world to improve your overall health.”

A National Wellness Program

Healthy Parks, Healthy People is a national program and the local partnership began in 2015.

“It's been a great partnership for our community,” said Julie Drake, executive director of Rehabilitation Services for Cape Cod Healthcare. “Cape Cod Healthcare and the National Seashore both want people to understand the benefits of getting outdoors and what that can do for your mental health, your spiritual health, your physical health.”

Drake’s favorite place to hike at the Seashore is Fort Hill and its red cedar forest in Eastham. “It’s nice because you get some time in the woods, and then some time in the fields, and then some time by the water,” she said. “I think that's really beautiful.”

Dr. Thompson had a harder time picking a favorite. “I love exploring all of the National Seashore,” she said. “Whether you're up in the Provincelands or down in Orleans, everywhere in the National Seashore has something new to discover every time you go, simply because it's an ever-changing, very dynamic environment. Even if you go to the same place more than once, if you go at a different time of year or a different time of day, you might discover something completely unique about it.”

Other Talk and Walk session are planned for July and October, with experts speaking about nutrition and mindfulness. The sessions are free and do not require pre-registration.