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Why It's Important to Know if Your Doctor Exercises

ExerciseResearchers at the United Kingdom’s Bedford Hospital surveyed 61 hospital physicians and found that only 21 percent get the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week. That is, in fact, less than half of the 44 percent of the overall population in the same age group who claim to meet this goal.

The doctors blamed lack of time, lack of motivation, or lack of workout facilities. However, doctors with an on-site gym at their hospital didn’t fare any better than those without.

Previous research has shown that doctors who exercise are more likely to counsel their patients to do the same, and that patients are more willing to try exercising when their doctors disclose their own personal workout habits.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Let me state at the onset that it is virtually impossible to stay healthy without exercise. It simply can’t be done.  A physician is an important mentor for you, and I would strongly caution everyone to factor this into the selection of your primary care physician.

This is not a crucial factor if you are already exercising and that is not an issue; in that case, you can even be a model or inspiration to your physician. However, if exercise isn’t a part of your lifestyle, then seek someone who is already exercising.

Better yet, find someone who is HEALTHY.  It is a major challenge for someone to mentor and guide you to health and wellness if they aren’t healthy themselves. The primary concern, of course, is that they don’t have the knowledge on how to do that.

Please remember that the vast majority of physicians are absolutely clueless about how to stay healthy. They are excellent in how to diagnose disease and then use drugs to control symptoms, but unless they have done self training, if they are an MD or DO, they will not have the additional insights you will need to coach you to health.

Just to let you know I am not being hypocritical here, as I have been regularly exercising for over forty years and am absolutely passionate about being healthy.  The items I write about in the newsletter are typically areas I am researching for myself personally.

Back to Exercise

Exercise is useful for just about any clinical problem, including but not limited to:

I find the fact that four out of five doctors don’t take care of their own health shocking -- but also not particularly surprising.  Many doctors don’t even bother to promote regular exercise among their patients.  In interviews with more than 1,800 adults, researchers found that only 28 percent of them reported being advised by their doctor to increase their level of physical activity, not too different from the 21 percent number of exercising doctors in the current survey. 

The lesson here is plain and simple -- if you don’t exercise, it is rare that you will bother to advise anyone else to exercise.

In fact, of the few patients who were told to exercise, only 4 in 10 were given any help in developing an exercise plan. Those rare individuals were about 80 percent more likely to meet physical activity recommendations.  The rest?  Well, there’s a reason America is currently facing an obesity epidemic.

It isn’t hard to believe that the doctors treat themselves the same way they treat their patients.

Live By Medicine, Kill By Medicine

The basis of conventional medicine is a drugs and disease model.  It doesn’t focus on sensible measures like diet and exercise, so why should the doctors who practice it?

Unfortunately, those who live be conventional medicine tend to die by it -- and kill by it.

Doctors are actually the third leading cause of death in the U.S., killing 250,000 people every year. The only more common causes are cancer and heart disease.

Care, not treatment, is the answer. Drugs, surgery and hospitals are rarely the answer to chronic health problems. Facilitating the healing capacity that all of us have is the key. Improving diet, exercise, and lifestyle are basic.  Effective interventions for the underlying emotional and spiritual wounding behind most chronic illness are also important clues to maximizing health and reducing disease.

Doctor, Exercise Yourself

But too many doctors don’t follow this principle.  They don’t even take care of themselves!  If they do not eat right, exercise, or make sensible lifestyle choices, will they advise a patient to do so?  If they do make that advice, and are obviously not taking care of themselves, why would a patient listen?  The phrase “Doctor, heal yourself” springs to mind. 

How can you trust a doctor who can’t even be bothered to make healthy choices?

History has shown that many treatments recommended by doctors have been complete disasters.  Doctors are only human, after all.  A license to practice medicine does not make you wise, or even sensible.

Be more sensible than most doctors.  Make sure you get enough exercise, even if your doctor doesn’t.