A New Walking Study Encourages Overweight Americans to Step up to Better Health: American Podiatric Medical Association Podiatrists Monitor Walkers' Roadblocks

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With 65 percent of American adults considered to be overweight or obese, walking may be one way to battle the bulge. However, if you lack motivation, a prescription to walk may be just what the doctor ordered. That's the premise behind a 48-week pilot walking program conducted by 16 member physicians of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

What if someone told you, you could walk your way to better health? With 65 percent of American adults considered to be overweight or obese, walking may be one way to battle the bulge. However, if you lack motivation, a prescription to walk may be just what the doctor ordered. That's the premise behind a 48-week pilot walking program conducted by 16 member physicians of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

The study, funded by APMA, examines two groups of nearly 250 overweight patients located across the country. The objective is to determine if a podiatrist's care can make a difference in maintaining a long-term walking routine. The participants will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. Group A participants will be given a written walking program and doctor discussions about the benefits of a walking program. These patients will be given a walking prescription which will include a 12 week calendar to document steps taken per day from the pedometer.

Group B patients will receive no walking prescription, no hand-outs, and no doctor discussions about the benefits of a walking program and will only be given a pedometer and instructions to walk. Body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, blood pressure and other health stats will be monitored on a regular basis for both groups. To qualify for the study, patients must be 18 years or older, at risk for obesity with a BMI of 27 or higher and cleared to participate in the study with no major health conditions, such as a heart attack, stroke or loss of sensation in the feet. Both groups will receive a free pair of Asics walking shoes to utilize in the study.

"Our walking study helps cement two important concepts," said Dr. Bryan Caldwell, the principal investigating podiatrist in the study and a professor at the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine. "We have known for years the health benefits of walking, as well as the positive impact a podiatrist's guidance can have on his or her patient's health. We hope the combination of the two will result in a positive outcome for people who struggle with their weight on a daily basis and will ultimately save lives."

Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. A poor diet and lack of physical activity are two of the biggest contributing factors. For this reason, podiatrists participating in the study will record participants' weight and amount of steps every four weeks using software designed specifically for podiatric research and information sharing from Integrated Physician Systems.

"Implementation of a viable walking program under the care of a podiatrist has great potential," said APMA President Dr. David Schofield. "Podiatrists have a vested interest in their patients' well being, without healthy feet, walking is not an option."

For more information about APMA's walking study or how to gear up for walking, go to http://www.apma.org/walking.

Founded in 1912, the American Podiatric Medical Association represents the nation's premier foot and ankle physicians. The Association has component societies in 53 locations in the U.S. and its territories and a membership of close to 11,500 doctors of podiatric medicine. For free foot health information, contact APMA at 1-800-FOOTCARE (1-800-366-8227) or visit http://www.apma.org on the Web.

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