The Cheerful Oncologist

“Run That by Me Again, Doc.”

If you are an athlete or are just committed to exercising regularly, no matter what your age is, what do you do if your doctor tells you to stop it? I’ll give you three possible responses:

1. “You’re the doctor – if you say to stop running I’ll stop.”
2. “How do you know that this is the right decision? What’s your experience with this?”
3. “Thanks, Doc!” (followed by this interior monologue [bowdlerized version]: “#### him! That fat ############. I’m going for a bike ride the minute I get home.”)

The correct answer is below the fold.

Ahem…as usual, this was a trick question. According to a report in the New York Times, the correct answer is “Do you exercise frequently, Doctor? What do you like to do?”

A doctor who is physically active, says Dr. Ronald Davis [president of the American Medical Association and a specialist in preventive medicine at the Henry Ford Health System], “is more likely to provide advice on exercise that will be meaningful to patients.”

Doctors who are athletes, he added, are less likely to say “untoward things like that running destroys the knees or that you need an electrocardiogram before you can exercise.”

A 2003 study of 4500 female physicians found that “those having a high priority to exercise more were more likely to counsel on exercise. Women physicians are relatively good exercise role models for their patients. However, many (especially those not regularly exercising themselves) could more frequently counsel their patients regarding exercise.”

Physicians who exercise regularly not only are more likely to help their patients get off their duffs and reduce their risk of major diseases by joining them on the treadmill, but are more likely to understand the unique need of athletes, who exercise – Do you hear me? – and will continue to exercise until Gabriel blows his horn in their sweaty faces.

Doctors who are athletes tend to be more aware that active people want to stay active more than anything else [my italics], said Dr. William Kraus, 53, a cardiologist who is a professor of medicine at Duke and runs 35 miles a week and finishes 5-kilometer races in about 20 minutes. He said athletic doctors are less likely to take the easy way out and tell an active person who is injured or ill to stop exercising.

“For many of us, that’s just unacceptable,” Dr. Kraus said.

I love to exercise, and I love this advice. If (note the optimistic conjunction) I ever develop a health problem that interferes with my exercising I will only see a doctor who specializes in the care of active people and sympathizes with their need to get back in the gym ASAP.

Now stand back before somebody gets hurt!

Comments

  1. #1 chezjake
    January 5, 2008

    My daughter was a regular runner and also was cycling 7 miles each way to and from work when she got a herniated lumbar disc in an on-the-job accident. Fortunately, her doctor very soon had her exercising in a pool, and she’s been swimming for fitness ever since.

    Depending on the particular condition, there’s usually some form of exercise that is safe and perhaps even therapeutic.

  2. #2 AnnR
    January 6, 2008

    The savvy exerciser gets around ever needing to have this conversation by cross-training.

    Sad to say, as the years go by those little aches and pains don’t just “go away” as quickly as they used to. Instead of pounding the same body parts over and over designing a program with variety is the thing to do. It can even improve your performance in your sport of choice.

  3. #3 Jenny
    January 8, 2008

    My oncologist is a runner and as far as I’m concerned that’s one of his major attributes. I’m a hardcore distance runner (think 70 to 100 miles per week) and my doctor encouraged me to keep running through 8 cycles of ABVD for Hodgkin’s Disease. He always asks about my running is going and I think it is one way he keeps tabs on how I am doing.

  4. #4 Dave Briggs
    January 9, 2008

    Depending on the particular condition, there’s usually some form of exercise that is safe and perhaps even therapeutic.

    Posted by: chezjake | January 5, 2008 9:50 AM

    I agree. Almost any new form of exercise will feel awkward at the beginning, but the history books are full of people who tried something new and then couldn’t get enough of it for the rest of their lives!
    Dave Briggs :~)

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