Abu Hurraira Khan

Abu Hurraira Khan

Fit as a Doctor? An oxymoron surely. We all know that doctors, with their demanding lifestyles are possibly the people in the worst shape, yet they tell us to sort our diets out. Ironic, right?


Given their jobs are stressful, they load up on caffeine and cigarettes to cope. They have no time, so they don’t exercise. Given the time constraints, they resort to unhealthy foods to get the calories in. And they practically live behind their desks, so a pot belly is all but guaranteed.


Is there even such a thing as a “fit doctor?’? The profession of Medicine is a solid guarantee that any practitioner can not possibly maintain a trim physique.


Or is it?


Staying fit is a lifestyle choice. It has less to do with one’s career than you realize. All professions, rather, all lifestyles, besides that of a couch bum, hold the capacity for stress. And in today’s world, time is a commodity we all hold dear.


The problem is not taking the time to keep yourself fit. The secret to maintaining a healthy physique is to develop a regimen that adapts to your needs so well that it can become a habit.  This is how we manage to shower and brush our teeth every day in spite of being busy or overworked. 


Work your unique method into a routine that lasts a long time, and I can guarantee, not only will you stay fit as a doctor, but you will prove to every naysayer that remaining trim is possible.. 


So, how do we build our unique routines?

 Find the Motivation.


A cliche we’ve all heard from nearly every gym trainer there is, I know. But it carries importance for the subject under discussion. You can have the best fitness coaches, the best possible equipment, and all the time in the world, but until you believe in yourself, and push yourself both mentally and physically, you will never achieve the results you crave so badly. 


Look for examples and anti-examples in your line of work. Doctors deal with people who have not taken the correct measures to maintain a healthy life.  Remind yourself that most of these illnesses could have been avoided had the patient paid more attention to diet and exercise. If that doesn’t work, look for positive goals that you’d like to achieve. They could be “I want to be able to fit into my favorite pants again,” or ” I don’t want my kids to outrun me when we play” or even ” Who says I can’t run a marathon?” Find your motivation and you’ll see the rest will quickly fall into place.

Choose the Right Regimen.


Start with weight training.  Remember, dumbbells and barbells are a gym’s bread and butter. You don’t need anything more complicated. 

Start with your basic weights and then work your way upwards. Focus on  two body parts every day. I’m sure that doctors understand the concept of muscle hypertrophy.


Use the traditional combinations: Chest with triceps, back with biceps, and a final combo of shoulders and legs. Find 3 basic exercises for each component, and set a goal of 3 sets with 8-10 repetitions each, going until failure. Increase the weight when you feel you can handle more, likely every 2 weeks. Keep this routine up for 4-5 days a week with a break every third day.  Continue consistently and you’ll see the results soon enough.  


Women often worry that weight-training will cause them to “bulk up,” but this is not true.  Weights produce tone and strength in women, but not bulk.  

Cardio Training is Key!


All the muscles of a bodybuilder will count for naught if you can’t climb a flight of stairs or run a mile or two without gasping for breath. Moreover, maintaining healthy cardiac function is a must-know for every doctor. The problem is finding the time to run a 40-minute jog every day while cursing every step. 


Let’s face it, no one enjoys running that long. So I suggest High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Do two rounds of intense cardio, 7 minutes each,  where your heart rate is consistently above a hundred beats per minute. This can range from skipping to basic jumping or jogging in place. As long as you stay breathless for the duration of the exercise, you’ve achieved your goals for the day. 


This allows doctors to avoid the need for wide-open spaces for running and it limits the time necessary to meet the goals of the day. If you can’t visit the gym for the day, you have no excuses to avoid your running goals. Keep this up and by the end, you’ll have the heart of an individual half your age!

Watch what and when you eat.


Unless you are careful about what goes into your digestive tract, you will lose out on all the benefits of your training. But your diet doesn’t have to be all-bran bread and raw vegetables. If you are careful with your intake, you can easily have the food you enjoy. No need to starve yourself if you remember the mantra, ” Count Your Calories”. The key is finding the correct balance. 


Assess your caloric requirement through the BMR formula. It ranges between 2000- 3200 for men and 1600-2200 for women. 

If you are looking to lose weight, keep a caloric deficit of 200-300 calories per day. Remember, it is 3500 calories to every pound of fat. Set your goals accordingly, but remember, keep them sustainable. A crash diet may work temporarily, but it won’t work long-term.  Many people find that as soon as they stop their intensive diet, they quickly gain all the weight back plus some.  Take it slow, and your results will last.


Try and limit yourself to two main meals throughout the day. A good rich breakfast with eggs and bread, maybe a slice of toast with jam. Try filling up on fruits or vegetables through the afternoon. Have an early dinner because you’ll have a real appetite by then. Avoid eating too late and leave enough time for digestion. And if you have to eat meals at the office because of time constraints,  please pack a good spread from home. Avoid the junk of cafeterias and vending machines.

Above everything else, remember, consistency is everything. Track your progress to prove to yourself that your capacity for training is improving.  It’s no good to go through 3 months of effort and discipline just to let yourself go at the end. Just as I said at the beginning, staying fit is a lifestyle choice. 


Enjoy what you do, and always recall in times of frustration: you have one of the greatest gifts possible. health. Look around you in the hospital if you need more proof. Find that health and fitness routine that will leave you a happy, healthy, and above all else, a fit doctor for times to come.


Don’t delay, get started today.

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