Sunday, October 3, 2010


We are now in our "Exercise and Movement" unit, which began with a lecture about the importance of exercise, likening it to a magic pill that has more preventive and curative potential than any other single thing we could possibly do.  In fact, studies have shown repeatedly that your VO2 max (the amount of oxygen that your body can process- this gets higher the fitter you are) is directly correlated with your survival rate.  Yes, you read that right.  How long you live depends on how much you exercise.  

Now, I write this as someone is a sporadic exerciser at best, and really hasn't gotten a good workout in weeks.  For a little while there, I was on a nice running/walking kick in the afternoons, but it didn't last too long; after a really hard workout with my brother a few weeks ago, I was all inspired to start going to the gym, but that didn't happen, either.  Part of this opening lecture addressed the challenges of prescribing exercise: despite it being such incredible (and FREE) medicine, people just don't do it.  Including doctors themselves.

(this photo was taken at a cardiology conference)
It doesn't take much activity at all to reap all sorts of rewards, either- literally just getting up and moving more throughout the day, pacing in the office while you make calls, taking the stairs, going on a walk during lunch or instead of the coffee meeting with a friend or a client can help make you much healthier. Easy, right?  So why is it so hard??

Some Benefits of Regular Physical Activity:
  • Reduces  risk of dying prematurely ( heart disease)
  • Reduces risk of  heart disease and colon cancer ( up to 50%)
  • Reduces  risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 50%
  • Helps  prevent/reduce hypertension
  • Helps control weight / lower the risk of becoming obese by 50%
  • Helps prevent / control risky behaviors (tobacco, substance use, especially among children and young people)
  • Promotes psychological well-being, reduces stress, anxiety and feelings of depression and loneliness

I sat through this lecture a week ago, and the closest thing I have done to be better about exercise is to write an email inquiring about a gym membership at a place close to my house.  Not exactly role model behavior.  So this is obviously an issue that hits close to home with me.  Lectures on renal function and the TCA cycle don't always feel directly applicable to my life, but I am a poster girl of someone who needs to exercise more: I am tired all the time, I have a large amount of stress in my life, I am super busy, I am not sleeping well, I feel like I don't have time... all the more reason that I should be making exercise a priority these days!  

The gym I looked into seems like a really great option, and I got really excited about it.  I was going to go join this past week, but then I had a really busy week with lots of extracurricular activities.  And then I thought that I would go join this coming week, but I have a test on Friday and a lot to do to prepare for it, plus company coming at the end of the week for my white coat ceremony on Saturday... sooo we'll see when it actually happens.  Evidently I am a terrible patient, just as doctors are notorious for being.  Life in medical school is not going to get any easier, so if I wait for a break in my schedule, it will just never happen.  Stay tuned... and don't follow my example! 

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