Why is running a popular leisure activity among doctors?

by
Bhairavi KS
June 7, 2021

A survey of 4,950 doctors in the United States found that doctors like to run during their free time. About 50% of the survey respondents who were under 40 years of age, 36% of those aged between 40 and 59, and 23% of the respondents over 60 years of age said that running was their favorite leisure activity. So what is it about running that keeps doctors hooked? This Global Running Day 2021, let’s explore some benefits of running for doctors.

#1 A great stress-buster

While most physicians work for 40-60 hours a week, about 25% of them work 60 to 80+ hours per week. The ongoing Covid-19 crisis worsened the workload on doctors as many of their colleagues chose to quit practice due to the extended work hours, increased exposure to the deadly virus, and fatigue. Needless to say, as frontline warriors in the battles against human well-being, doctors have one of the most stressful and unenviable jobs in the world.To ensure that stress doesn’t take a toll on their health, doctors take to running.

Running enhances the body’s ability to handle stress by boosting the secretion of norepinephrine, the chemical that is responsible for moderating the brain’s response to stress. It quickly reduces the activity in the frontal cortex,making it one of the best ways to disconnect from work pressure. Running helps increase the production of endorphins as well.  According to research, the benefits of running daily includes having fewer episodes of panic attacks or anxiety, even if a person suffers from such disorders. In short, running helps you face the challenges of the day without getting worked up about them.

#2 A productivity booster

Doctors need to constantly be on their toes attending to patients and rushing through hallways between their office, emergency rooms, and ward visits.They need to instantly respond to medical situations of varying degrees and still hold their ground. This demands a great deal of energy, agility, and reflexiveness.

Running enhances body movement, speed, reactivity, and quickness. It boosts your energy levels and replaces fatigue with enthusiasm. Since running requires you to bear your weight, it helps to build strong bones that are ready to take on the unique challenges of the medical profession. Also, research reveals that people who run are far more efficient at the workplace.      

#3 A tonic for good health

Did you know that running reduces the risk of heart attack due to diabetes by 20% and eye and kidney damage by 40%? Running can also regulate the sugar levels in your blood and keep depression at bay. Going for a run on a sunny day helps the body produce higher levels of vitamin D, which can, in turn, reduce the chances of depression, hypertension, heart disease, dementia,osteoporosis and bone disorders, and breast and prostate cancer. Running also helps people fall asleep easily, even if they are suffering from conditions like insomnia.

#4 A shortcut to better mental resilience

Running improves the brain’s ability to slow down the cognitive decline that gets started at 45 years of age. Starting on a running regimen in your youth helps increase the production of the chemicals that prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, helping you retain your memory and learning abilities for years to come. As a cardiovascular exercise, running can help create new brain cells and greatly improve the performance of the brain. Running a considerable distance could boost levels of BDNF, a brain-derived protein that is said to aid better decision-making, learning, and higher thinking – traits that are critical to succeed as a doctor. It also strengthens focus and improves psychological functioning.  

#5 A quick hack to ever-lasting good looks

Yes, we said it! The medical profession is a people-facing line of work where patients need to perceive you as a nice and smart individual. While there is not much you can change about your looks, there are certain things that you could do to enhance your appearance that could impact the way you are perceived. According to research, people view overweight doctors as less credible and trustworthy than fitter doctors. Having your patients trust you and your medical advice is critical to establish a successful practice.

One of the benefits to running is that it helps you keep weight issues at bay even as you age. It tones your muscles and improves your core strength. Regular exercise slows down biological aging and makes you look younger than your actual age.

Now that we’ve decoded the secret science behind why many doctors like to run, will you be putting on your running shoes soon?

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