On Saturday, while most doctors were in medical offices or taking an off-day, Cindy Anthis, medical director at Katy’s Christ Clinic, exercised alongside patients in an effort to live out what she teaches.

“I think that if I’m telling my patients to exercise,” Anthis said, “then I better be out there exercising, too.”

Anthis is the lead physician of the clinic’s monthly “Walk with a Doc,” a global program where doctors walk with their patients in order to promote healthy living styles. The Christ Clinic is one of several Houston-area medical centers that participate in the program, which combines walks with healthy living messages and food.

“A lot of our patients have chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure,” Anthis said. “A lot of time we are spinning our wheels with medicine if we don’t encourage them to exercise. A lot of them haven’t seen ways of exercise to be modeled.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that About 610,000 people die from heart disease in the United States every year.

Almost 10 percent of people in the U.S. have some level of diabetes, a disease which kills more than one million Americans per year, according to the American Diabetes Association. Being overweight can be a cause for high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as diabetes.

The clinic’s Walk with a Doc group meets every second Saturday of the month at Katy’s Rick Rice Park. Each event is sponsored by area churches such as Kingsland Baptist Church, Epiphany of the Lord and St. Peters United Methodist Church, which typically provide water and healthy snacks such as nuts and fruits.

Anywhere from a handful of people to more than 20 show to walk the park’s trail, Anthis said. At least one of the clinic’s physicians attends. Before every walk, Anthis teaches the group health and exercise tips.

The walking group typically includes a mix of people that can easily walk laps on the park’s trail, as well as those who struggle to get around. But the walk serves as a motivation for everyone there to exercise regularly, Anthis said.

A Columbus, Ohio doctor named David Sabgir began the program in 2005 after becoming discouraged by not seeing enough of his patients practicing healthy exercise routines. Since then, the program has spread worldwide. To find a location, visit http://walkwithadoc.org/.

The Christ Clinic began their Walk with a Doc more than one year ago, and there are several Houston-area health centers and private doctors who have joined the program, including in other suburban areas such as Fort Bend County.

The program “improves your heart health and your physical well-being and your bone structure,” said Benedict Ifedi, a physician at Physicians at Sugar Creek in Sugar Land, which participate in the program. “It helps increase comradery. People feel more encouraged when they have someone next to them pushing them.”

The Sugar Creek center holds walks every Wednesday beginning at 5:45 p.m. at its location along the Southwest Fwy in Sugar Land.

In March, the Christ Center plans to co-host a 5K color run with local nonprofits that include Clothed by Faith, Hope Impacts and The Ballard House. The event will serve as a fundraiser for the clinic, and Walk with a Doc participants are encouraged to attend, Anthis said.

For more information on the clinic’s Walk with a Doc, visit http://bit.ly/KatyDocWalk.