Physicians traded their white lab coats Saturday for workout gear to talk to patients while taking laps around a track.

About 20 community members, including doctors and nurses, attended the UF Integrative Health and Medicine Interest Group’s kickoff Walk with a Doc event. Walk with a Doc is a national organization that has hundreds of chapters nationwide.

The new Gainesville chapter will meet every other Saturday morning at the Santa Fe College Track, located at 3000 NW 83rd St., to promote active living and build relationships with local physicians, said Albert Barrera, the Gainesville walk leader and organizer.

“This organization will help bind both people that are concerned for their health and doctors that are on a mission to improve the health of their patients,” Barrera, 23, said.

Barrera, with the help of Dr. Amy Sheer, a third-year UF Health resident physician, applied for a $1,500 grant through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Sheer said. After receiving the money, about $500 of the grant was used to start the chapter.

The event Saturday began with Sheer giving tips on how to stay healthy, such as doing squats while cooking.

They then set out on a 45-minute walk around the track at their own pace.

“Exercise adds years to your life and more importantly adds life to your years,” Sheer said.

The national Walk with a Doc organization was started in 2005 by Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist based in Columbus, Ohio. He said he founded it when he realized only three percent of his new patients were achieving their recommended physical activity guidelines.

What started as a simple walking event in Columbus has grown to about 370 chapters nationwide, including the new Gainesville chapter, Sabgir said.

“You’re gonna have more fun than you would expect,” Sabgir said.

Reagan McKendree, a 22-year-old UF second-year medical student, said she hopes to be a doctor who connects with her patients like the ones at the event.

“It helps patients engage with their doctors and see them outside of just in the clinic with their white coats,” McKendree said.