Dr Asad Sadiq (centre) encourages people to walk with others so they can talk their problems away Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Dubai-based psychiatrist is urging anyone who cares to join him on a walk in the park in a novel community initiative called ‘Walk and Talk’.

Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Asad Sadiq said the idea behind the step is to encourage more people to walk – and walk with others – so that it can benefit them, both physically and mentally.

“You can literally walk and talk your problems away,” he said.

“And don’t get me wrong – there’s no registration or charge involved. It’s an open, once-a-week invitation that is free of cost,” he added.

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Dr Sadiq, from Manchester (UK) and of Pakistani origin, said he came up with the idea of ‘Walk and Talk’ for three reasons: To cope with life’s stresses including work and relationships, to connect with others and feel less lonely, and to improve physical health.

He said, “Most people spend long hours at work with little time to make friends. They may be facing a relationship issue; many expats are home alone, away from their families and support systems. Because of the transient nature of expat life, they tend to invest less in relationships and friends. Over time, they begin to suffer in silence.”

Spending too much time on social media doesn’t help either, he said, adding, “It is highly destructive to mental health”.

So how does Walk and Talk address these concerns?

Dr Sadiq said, “As we all know, walking helps keep blood sugar, blood pressure and weight issues under control. You can achieve this even if you walk alone. But walking with others provides you company, much-needed in many cases. You walk with someone you can talk to, even share your problems with. Moreover, when you talk while you walk, time tends to pass quickly and you end up walking more, which obviously becomes more beneficial.”

Six tips to stay healthy physically and mentally
1. Exercise: Walk for 45-60 minutes every day; or play a sport
2. Watch your diet with an optimum balance of carbs, proteins and fibre.
3. Get a social life: Make friends, plan an outing together, or just walk with others at least once a week
4. Develop a routine: Doing the same thing at the same time provides you a sense of purpose and discipline.
5. Sleep well: Try going to bed at the same time every day and clock in six-eight hours of sleep.
6. Repair relationships: There should not be a single person in the world you have fallen out with. The resultant peace of mind is incomparable.

Dr Sadiq, who is banking on word of mouth to popularise the concept of Walk and Talk, said there is a growing group of people who are joining him on his own walks.

“As we go along, we begin to strike a conversation with sub-groups of two, three of four members that invariably get formed. To break the ice, I always throw a general question. It could be anything from which was the movie they last watched or what they think is the best restaurant in town,” he explained.

He said his current Walk and Talk round at a park in Al Barsha every Tuesday covers a distance of 6km between 9pm and 10.15pm. “Of course, this could vary depending on the park and one’s own convenience,” he noted.

He also clarified that Walk and Talk is not an official consultation. “It’s a concept, a free prescription for anyone and everyone,” he added.