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Determining levels of physical activity in attending physicians, resident and fellow physicians and medical students in the USA
  1. Fatima Cody Stanford1,2,
  2. Martin W Durkin2,
  3. Steven N Blair3,
  4. Caroline Keller Powell1,
  5. Mary Beth Poston1,
  6. James Rast Stallworth1
  1. 1Department of Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  2. 2Research Administration, Palmetto Health Richland, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  3. 3Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Fatima Cody Stanford, Department of Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, Palmetto Health Richland/University of South Carolina School of Medicine, 14 Medical Park, Suite 400, Columbia, South Carolina 29203, USA; fcodystanford{at}


Objective Evidence suggests that the level of physical activity of physicians can be correlated directly with physician counselling patterns about this behaviour. Our objective was to determine if medical students, resident and fellow physicians and attending physicians meet the physical activity guidelines set forth by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Methods A representative cross-sectional web-based survey was conducted in June 2009–January 2010 throughout the USA (N=1949). Using the short form of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, the authors gathered demographical data and information related to physical activity, the level of training, the number of work hours per week, body mass index (BMI), confidence about counselling about physical activity and frequency with which the physical activity is encouraged to his/her patients.

Results Based on the 1949 respondents, attending physicians (84.8%) and medical students (84%) were more likely than resident (73.2%) and fellow physicians (67.9%) to meet physical activity guidelines.

Conclusion Physicians and medical students engage in more physical activity and tend to have a lower BMI than the general population. Resident and fellow physicians engage in less physical activity than attending physicians and medical students.

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  • Funding This study was supported by the Richland Memorial Hospital Research and Education Foundation.

  • Competing interests None

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.