Physical Activity Patterns Among Resident and Staff Physicians in Hamilton Teaching Hospitals

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Oren Steen MD
Ally P.H. Prebtani MD

strenuous physical activity, physician health survey, patterns among residents, endocrinology and metabolism, residency training program, physical activity patterns among physicians


Over the last number of decades, obesity prevalence has increased in Canada. Between 1985 and 2011, the prevalence of adult obesity in Canada rose from 6.1% to 18.3%.1 The consequences have posed a significant burden on our health care system.2 For instance, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome was found to be 19.1%, with abdominal obesity being the most common component of the syndrome.

Although medications are effective in treating cardiovascular risk factors, lifestyle interventions as a first-line approach are often overlooked.

Regular physical activity is an important component in maintaining a healthy body weight. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to strenuous intensity aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of strenuous activity) for optimal health.

Physicians tend to have numerous professional and personal commitments. Consequently, their personal health and well- being are frequently neglected.5 Increasing emphasis is now being directed towards physician health. Most of the research pertaining to the latter has focused on work-related stress and burnout, mental health, and substance abuse.5 Less research has been conducted examining lifestyle habits and preventive health measures among physicians.
The 2007 Physician Health Survey is the largest Canadian study to date focusing on physician health. It found that physicians exercised on average 4.7 hours per week, 58% of which was of moderate or strenuous intensity.6 They therefore averaged 164 minutes per week of moderate to strenuous exercise.

This study aimed to evaluate how Hamilton resident and staff physicians measured up to the national standard. Barriers to physical activity were also explored, something that has not been previously studied among physicians.

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