Something we can all agree on
The next time you’re on the pitch, take a look around and take in what is truly a unique view. Adults exercising. Vigorously. As physicians, we’ve grown accustomed to preaching healthful habits to our patients. The reality is that by the time most patients get to our office, we’re way behind, often dealing with acute problems. As a cardiovascular specialist, I am constantly referring patients to cardiac rehab exercise programs following a heart attack or heart surgery. Ironically, it’s essentially impossible to find insurance coverage for such a program in those without known heart disease with the most to gain (well BEFORE they have a heart attack!). Admittedly, the phrase “diet and exercise” rolls off my tongue as almost an afterthought during the course of a busy clinic day, but more and more, I’m making the commitment to spend an extra few minutes before the patient walks (or is wheeled) out the door, discussing the critical importance of exercise. But for many of MY patients, it can often be too late. Getting to our patients and community ahead of time, with an eye towards prevention, is truly the key. Ironically, as we find ourselves in an era of powerful drugs, medical devices, robotic surgeries, and gene therapy, a push back to some fundamental truths seems to be in order.
If you look at USMST, you’ll find a group of physicians and dentists engaging in regular training within the confines of a busy professional and personal schedule. All in preparation for one week of insane physical activity every summer. Our goals are tangible, wether we’re in Charleston, Chicago or Anaheim. We are lucky enough to have a passion that proves beneficial to us, mentally and physically. We enjoy the quantifiable aspects of being fit, and for sure, immeasurable intangible aspects. We’re unique in the medical community, let alone the community at large. We walk the walk. Perhaps its time we talk the talk.
This upcoming May, USMST will begin a collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine and their program, Exercise is Medicine. This is a logical union and one we can each truly jump into with two, cleat-laden feet. New teammate Felipe Lobelo, MD PhD, has orchestrated this collaboration through his role as the lead epidemiologist in Global Health Promotion Office at the CDC in Atlanta. His seminal work in the area of chronic disease prevention includes research specifically targeting the role exercise has in influencing physician clinical behavior in actually recommending this critical lifestyle modification ( http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/acsm-in-the-news/2011/08/01/fit-doctors-more-likely-to-encourage-patients-to-exercise ). The more we do on the pitch, the more likely we are to help modify our patients’ behavior. This is a powerful message.
Clearly, a group of soccer playing doctors representing the United States in the World Medical Football Championship is an ideal group to help convey the message of an organization dedicated to advancing the role of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle, preventing chronic illness, and improving mental health. While our age and sometimes fledgling fitness requires medicine after we exercise, we come back day after day, year after year because we believe that exercise truly IS medicine. We derive so much from our own participation with USMST — and we even have objective evidence that our participation helps our patients, and in turn our communities, and the public at large.
So let’s jump in. The ACSM collaboration is not even the beginning. Ky Tran and the Los Angeles-based crew are organizing an outreach event at a local Boys and Girls Club for our April practice. We’ll be leading a health fair where we’ll be engaging kids of all ages in activities geared towards exercise, nutrition, and careers in medicine. This is clearly a wide open process where we will all be counted on to lend expertise. By the time we arrive in Hungary, I’m confident our team will be in full gear on the pitch but incredibly, we’ll be just as productive off the pitch. Promoting exercise to our patients and our communities is an easy cause we all believe in.