Doctors on Exercise and Fitness


Many people take up running for health reasons. Personally, I took up running to become fitter (or just to become fit period as a prior level of fitness is almost nil). Anyway, every time I run, it always manages to creep my head whether doctors, or health care professionals et al, walk the talk when it comes to exercise and fitness. As a nurse, physical activity has been persistently part of a patient’s overall care plan, and exercise programs are commonplace especially if a client’s condition warrants retraining the body for normal use. Even for doctors, they always manage to come up with ‘tay, maglakad lakad ho tayo sa umaga ha’ advice for their patients. However, I think there’s a large gaping disconnect between what we are professing, and what’s really going on. I do not mean to be holier than thou for god knows how I’ll be able to maintain an exercise program in med school, but how many doctors do we really see working out? Okay, that may seem a little short sighted, but putting it another way, how many doctors do we see looming large in hospital hallways? How many of us (as a future doctor myself), fall under normal BMI? And how many are obviously overweight? How many have actually involved themselves in a strength training program? And how many have made an exercise program for themselves at any point in their lives? Are there even fitness groups among doctors in the Philippines? And as health care professionals in general, does our work even permit us to engage in dedicated sports, or even in a simple work out routine?

Cutting doctors, and doctors to be some slack, I believe the rigors of med school and hospital work prove it much of a challenge to stick with a fitness routine. Nevertheless, if we don’t ‘get on the water’ as we tell clients to do so, I don’t think we could fully, and believably get our message across.

In a survey conducted by UK Physicians on 61 junior doctors (Residents) in two hospitals in Southern England (I am yet to find a local study on this matter), they found out that only 21% met the general recommendations for moderate activity (30 minutes of brisk walking, five times per week) among participants. This is considerably lower compared to the 44% of UK adults (age 25-34) who fulfill activity recommendations.

“Doctors most often cited a lack of time, though many also said they lacked motivation or were too tired after work -- excuses that, studies suggest, many of their patients may give.”

(Here’s the link on the article as published by Reuters Health indexed in another site:

I guess doctors and health care professionals, in some areas, are very much like their patients in citing reasons for their lack of exercise. However, bottom line is, as people who are in the position of power to advice clients on what to do about their heath and bodies, it is necessary that we get out there and do what we preach. Modelling is one of the best forms of teaching, and unless we get our hands dirty, we just become hypocrites who talk about things we ourselves don’t even know about.