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Doctors: fighting fit or couch potatoes?
  1. K Gupta,
  2. L Fan
  1. Department of Surgery, Bedford Hospital, Bedford, UK
  1. Dr L Fan, Department of Surgery, Bedford Hospital, Southwing, Kempton Road, Bedford, MK42 9DJ, UK;{at}

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Regular exercise is beneficial in the primary prevention of disease, and more widely recognised in the secondary prevention of diseases such as colon cancer1 and type 2 diabetes.27 All-cause mortality in a standard population over a 5 year period in men has been shown to be reduced by 44% in those taking regular exercise.8

The Department of Health (DH) therefore recommends that an adult undertakes at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (3–6 metabolic equivalents (METs9) at least 5 times/week. This recommendation has been corroborated by international bodies, and investigated in relation to disease prevention.1012

Randomised controlled trials have shown that similar benefits, equivalent to exercising for 30 minutes daily in one bout, can be achieved through shorter bouts of 10–15 minutes duration, to a total of a minimum 30 minutes daily.1315

However, despite the importance of exercise, a study in 2004 found that only 31% of adults in the UK meet the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 times/week. Within the 16–24 year group this was 43%, and within the 25–34 year group, 44%.16 This rising level of inactivity4 reflects the changing values of society, available facilities and the pressures of modern-day living.

In order to combat this rise in inactivity, doctors are recommended to give patients advice with regards to exercise, but are we practicing what we preach? This is important as there is good evidence that doctors who exercise are more likely to counsel their patients to exercise.17 20

To our knowledge, this is the first study specifically targeting UK …

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Funding: This study complied with the Declaration of Helsinki.