Walking for Life

Mary Ann Nissley | Doylestown Health

Mary Ann Nissley, 88, discovered her passion for hiking at age 60 when she came across a book about the Appalachian Trail at the local library. “I saw the book and thought hiking the trail would be something I’d really like to do,” she recalls.

Since then, the Chalfont, PA, resident has logged thousands of miles — sometimes on her own, sometimes with her grandchildren and once a month as a regular participant of Doylestown Health’s Walk with a Doc (WWAD) program.

“I really love Walk with a Doc. I don’t think I’ve ever missed one, except maybe when I was out on the trail,” says Mary Ann about the WWAD program which features a brief health discussion by a clinician followed by a 30- 45-minute stroll. Open to anyone who wants to enjoy fun, friendship and fitness while improving their health, WWAD is free and everyone walks at their own pace.

A Walker for Life

“Not only is Mary Ann a Walk with a Doc veteran, but she has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Buckeye Trail (a 1,444 mile trail that loops to every corner of Ohio),” says James Kmetzo, MD, the retired Doylestown Health cardiologist who started the hospital’s WWAD chapter in 2015. A national non-profit organization, the mission of WWAD is to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages, and reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle in order to improve the health and well-being of the country.

Mary Ann has made some adjustments with age, switching from daily 10-mile walks in her neighborhood to 6-mile bike rides. She shares her love of hiking with her grandchildren and says she hopes she can continue to do what she loves. “I’ve done the Ohio Buckeye Trail in sections and still have 200 miles to go. I want to finish that.”

A Sense of Accomplishment

“Hiking makes me feel good about myself and what I can accomplish,” says Mary Ann. “I keep a journal and sometimes look back and think, ‘How did I ever walk 25 miles a day?’”

Fending off a Hungry Bear

Mary Ann now uses walking sticks to help with her balance, but also recalls the time her walking stick saved the day when she used it to fend off a hungry bear. “I was on the Appalachian Trail in a shelter, which is a three-sided building that hikers sleep in. Looking out, I saw a pair of eyes in the woods and realized that a bear was heading toward me. I knew he wanted my food, but I stood my ground and told him if he didn’t leave me alone I was going to have to shoot him! I jumped up, pointed my hiking stick right at him and he ran the other way!”

Join us for Walk with a Doc

Speaker & Topic: Jayne Koellhoffer, MD, PhD - Primary Care in the age of COVID-19

Each Walk With A Doc Event Includes:

  • Brief health discussion by a clinician
  • 30- to 45-minute walk around the Doylestown Hospital campus

Date and time: Wednesday, October 20, 2021 at 12 pm


William E. Neis Park
Doylestown, PA 18901

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Registration is required. The program is free.


About Doylestown Health

Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 271 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.

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