Dr. David Sabgir felt he was failing to help his patients improve their health, so to reverse the effects of a sedentary life he offered health education while walking. From that idea, the Walk with a Doc program was born inspiring doctors across the world. Recognized in 2015 as a CNN Hero, in this interview, Dr. Sabgir demonstrates how one spark ignited a global effort and why he is intent on positively impacting the pulse of healthcare.

Why did you focus on a career in medicine and become a cardiologist?

I always felt people were at their most vulnerable [when I saw them] and that seemed like a great opportunity to connect with people and to help them. That’s always something I wanted to do ever since I can remember. I had a wonderful role model in an uncle who was a cardiologist in Texas and the way he handled himself always inspired me. Then going through med school, I kind of, in residency, had that in the back of my mind, and fortuitously, I found out that my personality matched best with the other cardiologists, and it was actually a pretty smooth path.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have when you’re working with cardiac patients?

Physical activity is so critically important…  All of us are tugged in so many directions and I think at times, we feel — to be physically active — we think that’s going to involve changing clothes, having a gym membership, being intimidated by the effort we have to put out. In reality, just walking out our front door or going to a safe place close by and going for a moderately paced walk has essentially all the same benefits as, say, sweating it out on a treadmill.

Dr. Sabgir offers suggestions on subtle changes we can make in our lives. He confides that he would talk with patients about stents or bypass, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes all the while realizing he was “essentially one hundred percent ineffective in helping patients improve their health…” He shares the impetus for Walk with a Doc and recounts the excitement of the first walk as well as the growth, especially from the visibility gained from being named a CNN Hero.

How do you “Squeeze the Day?”

I’ve learned that life is really a gift and I try and plan the next day the night before. I wake up, and I think gratitude is wonderful. It puts me in the right frame of mind. I will list three or five things I’m grateful for that morning, that really helps me squeeze the day. I try and do — as all of us do — so many things during the day. You can’t be great at everything in one day, but maybe over time, you can become pretty proficient in a bunch of stuff. Some days you will win and other days you won’t. But life is a gift and I’m very grateful for this wonderful country we live in.

In this Squeeze the Day podcast, Dr. Sabgir explains why laughter is the best medicine; how proper nutrition paired with activity may be the magic elixir for good health; as well as his suggested benchmarks (steps and minutes of activity) per week of exercise – especially for older adults. He touches on nutrigenomics, Blue Zones, and the importance of time spent outdoors to maximize health benefits.

Learn more about his challenge to every doctor to have brief conversations with their patients about exercise, and why this initiative may be a glimpse into the future of medicine.

This Squeeze the Day is brought to you by the All of Us Research Program from the National Institutes of Health. Learn how you can help change the future of health by participating in the program.

Visit joinallofus.org to learn more.