Posts Tagged ‘Every Body Walk!’

Once more to the lake

posted on April 8, 2013

by Bryan Culp, Director

A walk in autumn quickened an awareness of the seasons of life and the ravages of time.

Wednesday, April 3, we celebrated National Walking Day. I took the opportunity to walk with friends to nearby Lake Merritt and to reflect on one of the benefits of getting out for a walk.

Twenty years ago I was a weekend commuter catching the train from New York City to Washington, D.C. I left early Monday morning and returned late Friday. I carried Thoreau’s “Walden” in a pocket edition on those trips hopeful that through immersion and by imitation I might find his easy and carefree style. The recommendation had come from E. B. White, a reliable guide in such things.

I wish I could say that the lesson “took” and that I developed a lighter touch. I don’t think so. But reading “Walden” awakened memories of distant woods and lakes in Arkansas and Tennessee where my father and I went hiking and fishing. I conjured memories of wooded trails and long forgotten orchards and fence lines.

Recently I was thumbing the pages of my dog-eared copy of “Walden” and came upon the naturalist’s account of a walk to “Flint’s Pond,” which he described as the area’s “greatest lake and inland sea . . . about a mile east of Walden.” You may remember from your own reading of it that a handful of natural spring-fed lakes lay in the vicinity of Lincoln and Concord, Massachusetts, Walden Pond being one of these.

“A walk through the woods [to Flint’s Pond] was often my recreation. It was worth the while, if only to feel the wind blow on your cheek freely, and see the waves run, and remember the life of mariners.”

“I went chestnutting there in the fall, on windy days, when the nuts were dropping into the water and were washed to my feet; and one day, as I crept along its … shore, the fresh spray blowing in my face, I came upon the mouldering wreck of a boat, the sides gone, and hardly more than the impression of its flat bottom left amid the rushes; yet its model was sharply defined… It was as impressive a wreck as one could imagine on the seashore, and had as good a moral.”

Lafayette Reservoir, near as the crow flies

The walk along the lakeshore in autumn quickened in the writer an awareness of the seasons of life and the ravages of time. “Like a flower of the field we flourish,” runs a line of an ancient poet, “until the wind passes over it and its place knows it no more.”

These days my commute is short and I take a walk not a train in the early hours. I remember a line from “Walden” whenever I nudge myself out of the door in the dark before dawn – as I did this morning in rain. “All memorable events . . . transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere.”

The Every Body Walk campaign gets us up and moving. I like to walk early in the morning in green and wilder spaces, to trek through the woods “once more to the lake.”

My morning walk in the hills above Oakland, Ca.

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You don’t have to be a gym star to preserve your good health

posted on March 4, 2013
Kaiser Permanente Every Body Walk! campaign graphic: Anatomy of Walking

By Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

In January 2011, Kaiser Permanente launched the “Every Body Walk!” public awareness campaign.  Chairman and CEO George Halvorson kicked off the initiative in his weekly celebration letter to all employees and physicians on January 14, 2011:

“It is time to celebrate walking. There are very few things that we can do that have a more positive impact on our health and our lives than walking. . . Kaiser Permanente is on a new path, so to speak, to encourage everyone in America who can safely walk, to walk. The theme is — Every Body Walk!”

Walking a prescription for health

Bob Sallis, MD, family physician at Kaiser Permanente Fontana (Calif.) Medical Center and the national spokesperson for the campaign, described the goals for Every Body Walk:

“The aim of the campaign is to inform Americans about the tremendous health benefits of walking. Walking is an excellent form of exercise for everyone. For those with conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart disease and depression, a regular walking regimen has the added benefit of helping to manage these diseases.

Bob Sallis, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s national walking advocate, talks with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin MD, during a 2012 national walking movement conference.

“I’m a strong believer in the power of walking and that’s why I literally prescribe it to my patients as front-line medicine — often in place of medications.”

From a public health point of view, the campaign is important because it addresses the many people that don’t get what is commonly thought of as “regular exercise” – going to a gym, playing tennis, or riding a bicycle.

Every Body Walk! encourages a modest amount of activity, thus opening up a new path to healthy behavior for millions of people. The campaign provides news and resources on walking, health information, walking maps, help in finding walking groups, as well as a place to share stories about individual experiences with walking.

 

Research validates value of walking

Medical research shows that walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can prevent the onset of chronic diseases, or help manage them. The roots of this prescription can be found in a 1996 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Physical activity and health: A report of the Surgeon General.[i]

The research supports the common-sense and empowering notion that some exercise is better than none, and any approach to encourage activity will have positive health benefits:

“Emphasizing the amount rather than the intensity of physical activity offers more options for people to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives. Thus, a moderate amount of activity can be obtained in a 30-minute brisk walk, 30 minutes of lawn mowing or raking leaves, a 15-minute run, or 45 minutes of playing volleyball, and these activities can be varied from day to day . . . Through a modest increase in daily activity, most Americans can improve their health and quality of life.”

Recent studies confirm concept

Subsequent medical research amplified the benefits. A 2002 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that patients who ate a healthy diet and engaged in moderate physical activity for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, reduced their risk of getting Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.[ii]

A 2010 prostate cancer study found: “A modest amount of vigorous activity such as biking, tennis, jogging, or swimming for less than three hours a week may substantially improve prostate cancer-specific survival.”[iii]

Sidney Garfield, MD, Permanente founding physician, walking in Mojave Desert near the site of Contractors General Hospital, 1980

Recent research at Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences suggests the health benefits of small amounts of activity – even one- and two-minute increments that add up to 30 minutes per day – can be just as beneficial as longer bouts of physical exercise achieved by a trip to the gym.

The study, which involved a broad demographic of more than 6,000 American adults, shows that an active lifestyle approach, as opposed to structured exercise, may be just as effective in improving health, including the prevention of metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Lead author of the study, Paul Loprinzi, explains:

“We encourage people to seek out opportunities to be active when the choice is available. For example, rather than sitting while talking on the phone, use this opportunity to get in some activity by pacing around while talking.”[iv]

Garfield walks, jogs in desert

At Kaiser Permanente, innovation is usually framed in the context of deep previous experience. In the mid-1930s, founding physician Sidney R. Garfield, MD, was running a clinic in the Mojave Desert for the workers on the Colorado River Aqueduct project. Guess how the clinic staff stayed fit?

“When we were at the hospital (walking) is what the staff did all the time for keeping fit (and for) exercise, except we’d jog – yeah, we would run, but we’d wait until the sun went down, go out and jog and then would walk along. And about that time the rattlesnakes would come out, and then we’d really jog.”[v]

History is repeating itself, and we’re all the better for it.

 

See “Gift of Walking,” a short video featuring Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO George Halvorson.

Short URL for this story: http://bit.ly/WHcZbv


[i]U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity and health: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1996. < http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/pdf/execsumm.pdf[ii]CDC Statement on Results of Diabetes Prevention Program
Reducing the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. New England Journal of Medicine has published a new article by Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, et al entitled “Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin.” N Engl J Med 2002 Feb 7;346(6):393–403.
[iii] “Physical Activity and Survival After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study,” American Society of Clinical Oncology, November 9, 2010
[iv]“Association Between Biologic Outcomes and Objectively Measured Physical Activity Accumulated in [greater than or equal to] 10-Minute Bouts and [less than] 10-Minute Bouts,” Paul D. Loprinzi, PhD; Bradley J. Cardinal, PhD. American Journal of Health Promotion, Jan/Feb 2013. http://ajhpcontents.org/doi/pdf/10.4278/ajhp.110916-QUAN-348
 [v] Unedited transcript of Dan Scannell (Kaiser Permanente Audio-Visual Department) interview with Sidney R. Garfield, 2/27/1980. Filmed near the site of the original Contractors General Hospital (1933-1938) at Desert Center, California, between Palm Springs and the Colorado River. TPMG P1357

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Brisk daily walks keep retired KP CEO Jim Vohs in the pink

posted on September 21, 2012

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Jim Vohs created this outdoor portrait of his red-headed grandsons in the autumn red leaves in his front yard. This framed portrait hangs in his home.

I had the pleasure one day this summer to take an early morning brisk walk with Jim Vohs, retired Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals CEO. Formerly a marathon runner of some note, Vohs enjoys the physical benefits of walking, as well as the time it affords him for reflection. He subscribes to KP CEO George Halvorson’s belief in the power of walking. “Every Body Walk!” is the mantra of Halvorson’s current campaign to get people moving.

I had heard through the grapevine that Vohs, who retired in 1991 and is in his 80s, was an avid walker. So I called to see if I could talk to him about his daily walking routine. He invited me to walk with him at 7 in the morning a few days later. On the phone, I asked: “What if I can’t keep up with you?” He said: “I can adjust to your pace.”  OK! I was up to it.

I met him outside his Piedmont home at the appointed hour. The charming gentleman came out of the gate wearing beige casual pants, white walking shoes, a stylish sweatshirt – and a nice, welcoming smile. My first time to meet him was smooth and relaxed. We began to walk the gentle hills around his neighborhood at a clip talking as we went. He shared with me his thoughts on retirement, his time as leader at Kaiser Permanente, and his views on exercise.

This cartoon appeared in Harper’s in December 1978. Fun-loving friends added “J.V.” to the male jogger’s shirt and presented their version to Vohs. Cartoon and prayer by famed writer of “The Right Stuff (1983)” and “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)” Tom Wolfe.

He confided that he used to look down his nose at walkers, considering them “wimps” who weren’t serious about their fitness. He later showed me a cartoon from Harper’s magazine featuring a runner with the initials “J.V.” on his chest who recited Tom Wolfe’s “The Joggers’ Prayer”:

“Almighty God, as we sail with pure aerobic grace and striped orthotic feet past the blind portals of our fellow citizens, past their chuck roast lives and their necrotic cardiovascular systems . . . past their inability to achieve the White Moment (jogger’s high) or slipping through The Wall . . . help us . . . to be big about it.”

Today, however, Vohs has changed his mind and believes walking can be the best kind of exercise, indeed for everyone. “What are the benefits of walking for you? I ask him. “Everything that George (Halvorson) says in his missive on walking,” he replies, referring to Halvorson’s weekly letters to KP colleagues.

The number of benefits of walking 30 minutes a day is astounding. They include: lowering the risks of diabetes, stroke, hypertension, breast cancer and its recurrence, colon cancer, prostate cancer, hip fracture and gallstones. Such a regimen can also boost high density cholesterol, lowering the risk of heart attacks and stroke.  Walking helps people to lose weight and makes them feel better psychologically. The list goes on and on.

After our 30-minute walk, we returned to the Vohs home, and he invited me in for breakfast and to meet his wife, Eileen. The fare consisted of decaffeinated coffee, bananas, blackberries, yogurt and muesli. Basically, very healthy, it goes without saying.

The display case for Vohs’ KP service pins was also made of Koa wood by his Hawaiian friend. Koa wood, found only in Hawaii, is prized for many uses, including fine furniture and guitars.

Jim Vohs was the CEO of Kaiser Health Plan and Hospitals from 1975 to 1991. He is credited with many accomplishments at the helm of KP, including initiating an active Board of Directors Quality of Care Committee, expanding the Health Plan into new geographical regions, supporting a rigorous Affirmative Action policy, and defending the core values in times of change. The annual Vohs Award for Quality was established in his name when he retired in 1991.

In reflecting on his KP career, Vohs says he wishes he would have thought of the health plan’s current focus on healthy lifestyles as exemplified by the Thrive advertising campaign, started in 2004. He was  opposed to advertising when it was first suggested in the 1980s because he did not want the not-for-profit Kaiser Permanente viewed as just another commercial organization and says he only agreed to it if the people featured in commercials were actual KP members or staff.

Keeping KP from becoming a commercial enterprise was a no-brainer for him. “We started out as a nonprofit organization providing care that people could afford. I fought against us becoming a profit-making business. That’s not who we were (are).”

Mail Room Clerk Travis Bailey and KP President Jim Vohs show off the March of Dimes TeamWalk trophy — a bronzed shoe worn by baseball star Willie McCovey — from 1985. KP Reporter cover photo by Jaime Benavides, July 1985.

While KP CEO, Vohs was heavily involved with local communities and charitable organizations and urged KP staff across the regions to participate in public events.  In 1985 and 1986, he served as Alameda County chairperson for the March of Dimes’ TeamWalk and marshaled 900 KP walkers in 1985 and 1,000 in 1986.

With Vohs in the lead, the KP team raised $35,000 in 1985 and $60,000 in 1986. Vohs is quick to note that the March of Dimes walk – 32 kilometers for more energetic participants – wasn’t a promotion of walking. “That was different. We were walking to raise money, not for fitness.”

The KP walking team attracted staffers from all over Northern California. As the top team, KP won the traveling trophy, which was a bronzed shoe originally worn by baseball star Willie McCovey. “Once again we proved we’re number one.” Vohs said at the time.

Of his athletic pursuits, Vohs is most proud of his success as a marathon runner. He competed in the Avenue of the Giants 26-mile marathon, which only accepts 1,000 qualified runners, and two full-length Oakland Marathons when he was in his 50s. He stopped running a few years ago when he developed plantar fasciitis, a condition affecting his feet. He continues to play golf, walks the course and carries his own bag.

This clock of Koa wood was made for Vohs by a friend and Hawaii Permanente Medical Group physician. He treasures it and keeps it on display in his study.

After retirement, Vohs maintained a KP office for about five years and continued his participation on a number of boards, including the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco, the Oakland Coliseum, Holy Names College and the Oakland Port Commissioners. “My wife (Janice) said I failed retirement,” he offered, half joking. “She said it was like I was still working because I went into the office every day.”At a certain point, he vacated the office to spend more time at home.

Vohs has four daughters, among them a couple of runners who have entered the Bay to Breakers with him over the years.  He also has nine grandchildren. Grandpa Vohs snapped a beautiful photo of two of his grandsons playing in the autumn leaves in a season that has long passed. The boys’ thick red hair blends with the leaf baskets’ contents to create an impressively artful photograph. Vohs has a large framed print of the scene hanging in his family room.

In his study, Vohs displays two special mementos from his KP days – a hand-crafted clock and a display case for his service pins, both made of Koa wood by a Hawaii Medical Group physician and friend. The case shows all his pins from his Kaiser Permanente career under glass. The last one marks his 40 years with the company.

 

Vohs and his boating friends have a running joke about this papier mache-covered shoe and the memory of a mishap when their boat was swamped.

Another prized object is a tennis shoe preserved with papier mache to remind him of a water excursion with friends that ended with a swamped boat. He and his fellow boaters have a running joke that involves sneaking the shoe back into each other’s possession.

Sadly, Vohs lost his wife of almost 50 years to cancer about 10 years ago. He remarried recently after renewing his acquaintance with Eileen Galloway, a college friend, at a UC Berkeley alumni reunion. Eileen sometimes walks with Jim, but mostly she likes to walk later in the day and a bit slower.

“I want to enjoy myself and appreciate my surroundings,” she said. “And I don’t want to get out of bed at dawn.”

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