Cardiologist Max F. Rattes is always encouraging his patients to get or stay in shape.
Recently, he decided on a more active approach.
Once a month, he accompanies his patients, employees and anyone else who cares to join in on a walk through Aldermans Ford Park.
"There's no question that increasing exercise, even moderately, reduces the risks of many diseases, including coronary heart disease, breast and colon cancer and Type 2 diabetes," Rattes said.
His next walk is 9 a.m. Saturday at the park, 100 Aldermans Ford Park Road, off County Road 39, in the Lithia area.
There is no charge to participate in the walk, although the county-operated park has an entry fee. Walkers don't have to be a patient of Rattes to take part.
The walk starts out with a brief health talk by a guest speaker before Rattes leads the group on a park trail that is 1.8 miles long.
"You walk as much as you want. You don't have to go the whole way," said Rattes' wife, Dora.
Someone follows the group and makes sure no one is left behind needing help, she said.
An average of 50 to 60 people take part in each walk, Dora Rattes said.
The effort is part of the nationwide Walk With a Doc program. A physician started the program in Columbus, Ohio, in 2005, and it has spread around the country.
For information, call Rattes' office at (813) 752-3456 or go to www.walkwithadoc.org.