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Anyone up for a walk around downtown with the surgeon general? Anyone? Bueller?

August 04, 2010

Will someone tell the surgeon general that people don't walk in Los Angeles? We know that's a cliche, but here's the deal: Surgeon General Regina Benjamin will be in downtown L.A. on Thursday to lead something called a Walk for a Healthy and Fit Nation. It coincides with the IDEA World Fitness Convention, a gathering of fitness professionals.

The half-hour jaunt begins at the convention center and winds around Staples Center and the Nokia Theatre. No doubt those fit people are up for a half-hour jaunt around downtown at high noon, but regular Angelenos? Probably not so much.

We're not totally against exercise, of course, it's just that most people in L.A. like to do it in the gym or at the beach or in a yoga studio or at the dog park, not on concrete. Downtown. Joining Dr. Benjamin will be Dr. Pamela Peeke, national spokeswoman for the American College of Sports Medicine's Exercise Is Medicine campaign and the chief medical correspondent for Discovery Health Channel; IDEA Health & Fitness Assn. co-founders Peter and Kathie Davis, and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who, you'll recall, broke his elbow recently after colliding with a taxi while ... bicycling.

We're guessing Benjamin and company won't find copious converts along the way -- they'll probably all be in the middle of lunch -- but the walk is supposed to be more representative than troop-gathering, said Peeke, who sounded way fired up about the event when we spoke with her. "Dr. Benjamin and I were sitting together last September, and we were thinking, what could we do to really make a mark? And I said, 'Let's go out there and walk.' "

And so they did, starting the Walk for a Fit and Healthy Nation last June at the annual meeting of the ACSM. There are plans for a rim-to-rim hike across the Grand Canyon.

"This isn't so much about gathering 9,000 people around us," she said, "It's more symbolic. I want everyone to see that it's OK to walk. We have our surgeon general and our entire team out there hoofing it, so let's get up and start moving, America." After the walk, Benjamin will appear at an IDEA news conference.

If you feel compelled to join the surgeon general, et al., the walk begins at 12:30 p.m. at the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Make sure to bring your tennies and wear sunscreen.

-- Jeannine Stein

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