Monkey See, Monkey Do… Or Not (yes we’re the monkeys)

July 18th, 2011 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

I might have lost this bet.  I am rather surprised in some ways, but in other ways, it’s a no-brainer.

This study questioned general practitioners about their own activity levels and the activity levels they prescribe to their type 2 patients.

More confusingly, what they looked at was not the actual activity levels of the physicians, but rather the
physicians’ perceived barriers to physical activity.

I hope they didn’t word the questions in the same way. 

First off, they asked more than 600 physicians in France to complete the questionnaire; 574 declined to
participate.  Bummer for the researchers!  After all was said and done, 48 general physicians and 369 patients were included in the study.  So maybe this isn’t a great picture, but I think it does highlight on an important aspect of healthcare.  (This low return rate on the questionnaire is one of the things that surpised me.  It’s a shame because I’m pretty sure those physicians who do exercise returned their questionnaire.)

It matters to us patients how our healthcare professionals care for themselves.

The study found that the patients whose general physician didn’t think there were many hurdles with physical
activity in their own lives fared better when it came to the patient’s physical activity.

It makes sense: I think the average person would rather see a dentist who brushed their own teeth than one who didn’t.  We’d rather hire a plumber who had a toilet in their own house than one who used an outhouse.  (I could keep going but I won’t.  You’re welcome!)

So, it makes sense that if a general doctor tells a patient “exercise and be more active to help manage your diabetes” we at least on some levels will be more likely to follow that advice if the doctor exercises, too.

Maybe they can help their patients figure out how to beat some of the basic excuses when it comes to exercise
because they’ve had to figure out ways to make it work in their own lives.  Maybe it’s because a fit and active doctor
exudes good health
and we as patients want to learn from and copy that good example.

But I don’t think it’s unrelated.  I don’t think patients who see fit general doctors aren’t paying attention.  I don’t
think patients who do need to exercise look at their unfit doctor and don’t see it as a “get out of jail free” card.  (Which is a categorical shame.)

We are all looking for ways to make exercise work for us and our bodiesEspecially
those of us living with diabetes.

If your doctor, be they a general practitioner or an endocrinologist, isn’t speaking to you about exercise, NOW is the time to ask:


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