If physicians think their own fitness is important, chances are they'll
advise exercise for their patients too, a new study finds. The research found that physically fit doctors were more likely to push for
physical activity in patients than inactive doctors.
Because people often take their doctor's advice seriously, "these findings
suggest that improving health care providers' physical activity levels may be an
easy way to help reduce physical inactivity among the general population,"
Isabel Garcia de Quevedo, of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
said in an American Heart Association news release.
What the research found
The research team analysed the findings of 28 previous studies on health care
providers' physical activity and the exercise counselling they gave to patients.
The review revealed that physically active health care providers were much more
likely to advise their patients to get daily exercise.
Some of the studies found that fit, active doctors were two to five times
more likely than inactive doctors to recommend exercise to their patients. Other
studies found that programmes to improve doctors' physical activity levels
improved the doctor's confidence and ability to provide exercise advice to
The researchers also discovered that medical school students who took part in
a program to improve their lifestyle habits were 56 percent more likely than
other medical students to provide patients with regular physical activity
"When [exercise] advice is coupled with a referral to community resources, it
can be quite effective and this approach should be part of the public health
solution to America's inactivity problem," study leader and co-author Dr Felipe
Lobelo, an epidemiologist with CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease
Prevention and Health Promotion, said in the news release.
The American Heart Association and the CDC recommend at least 150 minutes of
moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide
to physical activity.