Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus


BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 04 September 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:s93
  1. Rhona MacDonald, Editor of Career focus
  1. careerfocus{at} tel: + 44 (0)20 7387 4499

Unless you are really committed to keeping fit, life as a doctor can often be taken over by work and other responsibilities leaving little time to keep healthy. General practitioners in particular are often more prone to inactive lifestyles as their walk from the car to the surgery is usually shorter than the trek along hospital corridors.

Walking seems to be the new jogging/step/kickboxing (or whatever fitness fad went before), with even McDonald's giving out Step-O-Meters so customers can check how many steps they walk. As an adrenaline junkie I used to watch in amusement people dressed in hard core sports gear “just” powerwalking, but now that my body can't keep up with what I want to do, I am a convert to the benefits of walking. It's functional, you can do it at any time and anywhere, alone or with friends, you don't need high tech sports gear, and you can potentially do something else at the same time (like listen to music etc). Here's what Mitch Counsell from the Walking the way to Health Initiative has to say about it: “Walking is central to the long term health and fitness of the nation. It's realistic, achievable, accessible, and affordable for most of the population. Thirty minutes of brisk walking, five times a week, confers much benefit. In addition, evidence is growing that the 30 minutes can be broken up during the day into 10 minute chunks.” (p 97)

Of course if you can do something—for example, cycling—to get the heart rate up will have even more benefits, but incorporating 10 minutes of functional walking three times a day sounds perfectly manageable, even to the most hardened car user. And I know you know this, but you are what you eat. Eating healthily (whatever that means) is also necessary to balance the fitness equation. So, although our article (pp 96-7) is really just common sense, it may help you decide that making time to look after your own health is a priority. Our competition could give you the kick start you need (p 97).

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