• By Rhoda Madson

Walk the talk: Physicians should be role models for physical activity

September 2, 2016

Closeup of male running or walking

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Two studies published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings bolster the case for physical activity and offer another opportunity for physicians to encourage their patients to move more.

In the first study, by Meghan Edwards and Paul Loprinzi at the University of Mississippi, a sedentary lifestyle was enforced on 26 active young adults for seven days. As part of the study, they could not participate in any structured exercise or log more than 5,000 steps a day. After just a week of being sedentary, participants’ depression and moods were worse. But once they resumed their active routines, their moods and depression improved.

In the second study, Alejandro Santos-Lozano of the Research Institute of Hospital in Madrid and colleagues analyzed data from two studies involving 23,345 and 10,615 elderly patients, respectively. Those who had been getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week appear to have a much lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, compared with their peers who did not get this amount of activity.

The two studies highlight the mental and emotional benefits of exercise, which aren’t always as apparent as the physical benefits, says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist and co-director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine, in a commentary also published in the August issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Those benefits include:

  • Reducing anxiety
  • Improving mood and fatigue
  • Increasing productivity
  • Decreasing work and school absences

Despite the data on the benefits of physical activity, America still struggles with an epidemic of obesity and sedentary lifestyle, Dr. Laskowski says. One study estimates that, by 2030, the obesity rate nationwide will increase to about 50 percent for men and 52 percent for women.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rhoda Madson, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, newsbureau@mayo.edu

“If the benefits of exercise could be distilled into one medication and bottled, it likely would be the best-selling and most prescribed medication in history,” Dr. Laskowski writes.

That’s why it’s crucial for physicians and other health care professionals to “walk the talk” and be role models for healthy behaviors, Dr. Laskowski says. He calls on other health care professionals to educate and encourage their patients to incorporate healthy habits into their everyday lives.

“These studies show the wide-ranging benefits of being physically active,” Dr. Laskowski says. “These are quality of life changes – without side effects and at low cost. There really is no downside.”

About Mayo Clinic Proceedings
Mayo Clinic Proceedings is a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal that publishes original articles and reviews dealing with clinical and laboratory medicine, clinical research, basic science research, and clinical epidemiology.

Mayo Clinic Proceedings is sponsored by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research as part of its commitment to physician education. It publishes submissions from authors worldwide. The journal has been published for more than 80 years and has a circulation of 130,000. Articles are available at http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/.

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About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, whole-person care to everyone who needs healing. For more information, visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/about-mayo-clinic or http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/.

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