As the many benefits of health and fitness programs continue to emerge, greater numbers of doctors suggest that patients increase physical activity for health improvements. Unfortunately, a recent study of doctors’ health habits might prove their advice to be more along the lines of “do as I say, not as I do.
The study was published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2008; doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.051839) and involved 61 foundation and specialty trainees at Bedford Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital in the United Kingdom. Each participant was asked 21 questions about demographics, exercise habits and general health; the results were compared to the UK average, according to the UK Department of Health (DOH).
Study authors found that only 21% of subjects met the DOH’s recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five times per week. This number is significantly lower than the national average, according to the study. Of the 77% who did not meet the standard, 58% claimed lack of time, 29% were unmotivated and 13% did not have access to appropriate facilities. Yet even those with on-site facilities seemed less likely to participate in regular exercise. Authors also noted that 64% of the doctors had met the recommendations as medical students, but only 29% met them now. “The doctors in this study exercise less than average,” stated the study authors. “However, those with on-site facilities did not meet DOH recommendations more than those without. Few of those who met the DOH recommendations as medical students, continued as doctors. This is especially worrying. The combination of a heavy workload, lack of time and poor motivation contributes to the lack of exercise.”