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Active Doctors are Role Models for Regular Exercise

Healthcare providers like physicians, nurses and pharmacists are more likely to advise their patients and clients to exercise if they themselves are physically active. This was the observation researchers noted from a meta-analysis that covered 24 observational studies gathered from literature dating from 1979 through 2012.

Researchers Isabel Garcia de Quevedo, MSPH, and Felipe Lobelo, MD, PhD, both of the CDC in Atlanta, found that physically active doctors were five times more likely to counsel their patients about exercise and remind them about it more often than those who were not active. This was reported recently at the American Heart Association (AHA) Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism meeting, which was held in New Orleans.

Nieca Goldberg, MD, an AHA spokesperson, says that doctors have to walk the walk for patients to find them more credible in talking about physical activity. The organization’s president, Donna Arnett, PhD, MSPH points out that being physically active has many health benefits for weight, blood pressure, and stress, and role modeling physical activity for their patients provides benefits for both of them.

The researchers searched through literature for all studies from that compared healthcare providers’ self-reported levels of physical activity to their practice in patient counseling. Twenty-three of the 24 studies found a significant effect of healthcare providers’ own physical activity or fitness level and their physical activity counseling behavior. Fifteen of the studies also found the association among other healthcare providers such as nurses, pharmacists, medical and nursing students, and others.


Phend, C. Active Docs Give Exercise Advice More Freely.  MedPage Today.

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