Doctors take to the Common to walk the walk

How can your doctor expect you to get off your duff and exercise if he doesn’t exactly look like Dr. Oz himself?

“Data shows the more active your doctor is, the more likely he is to advocate you to be active,” said Dr. Eddie Phillips of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. “If a doctor lifts weights, he’s more likely to say, ‘Why don’t you lift weights?’”

Phillips helped organize Friday’s “White Coats, White Sneakers” walk on the Boston Common, which will be led by U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and local health care leaders.

On average, doctors are more physically fit, smoke less and live longer. But Phillips said they could do better.

The 51-year-old triathlete doesn’t expect every doctor to run marathons, but said even walking the hospital stairs helps. He is working with hospitals and medical schools to incorporate physical fitness into doctors’ days.

“Doctors, we eat stress for lunch,” he said. “People come into med school so interested in personal health, but the stress of training is so intense we squeeze it out of them.”

The doctors will hand out prescriptions for exercise and healthier lifestyles during Friday’s walk. Similar walks have been held in Baltimore and Los Angeles.

“The day is coming when we’re paid based on behaviors and outcomes of behaviors, average waist sizes of patients and measures for diabetes,” Phillips said. “At that point, it’s not about pills. It’s about eating better, managing stress and being more active.”


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