Young Doctors Exercise Less Than They Should
In comparison to the national average, young doctors get much less exercise, and this level of exercise is below recommended levels, according to a study released on December 2, 2008 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine
To assess exercise habits in doctors, the researchers surveyed junior doctors working at two hospitals in Southern England, one of which had an on-site gym. Of the the 61 total surveyed, half were women, and the average age was 27. In the group, there were equal numbers of medical and surgical specialists. The survey asked about the subjects' physical exercise habits before and after graduating and lifestyle factors, such as smoking or drinking, which were likely to affect general health.
In most categories, the doctors outperformed the national public. On average, the doctors weighted and smoked less than national average estimates. Only 7% drank more than the recommended number of units of alcohol. However, only 21% achieved recommended exercise levels, far below the national average of 44%. Additionally, examining the doctors performing too little exercise, most worked at the hospital with a gymnasium -- but one third of the doctors working there said they were unaware of its existence.
In the 35 doctors who used a gym, on-site or elsewhere, only three exercised according to the guidelines. The doctors' previous habits may be have been different, because as medical students, 64% fulfilled the guidelines. When asked why they did not meet the guidelines, the most common response was lack of time, with 58% of the total. However, 29% said they were not motivated or too tired. When asked what might increase their exercise participation, many of the subjects suggested promotion programs at work, or the availability of exercise classes or sports teams.
I think this is incredibly interesting- Doctors who are to be promoting health to their patients are not getting enough exercise themselves. This sort of research underscores the importance of health promotion program even to those whose job it is to promote health. Often times these people are so busy to think of their own health. However, I think it would be difficult to listen to a doctor or health professional who was healthy him or herself. Therefore, health promotions should target health professionals as well. This is not a usual intervention population, but apparently there is a need.