A randomized study from New York Institute of Technology aims to learn whether wearing activity trackers and incorporating physical activity education helps student-physicians improve their activity levels. This is the first study in the nation aimed at trying to improve physical activity in medical students by wearing Fitbit fitness trackers as well as providing fitness seminars. The study looks at different nutritional measurements (cholesterol, % body fat, etc.) in first year medical students prior to the start of medical school and after completion of the first year of medical school, one year after being enrolled in the study. The idea of the study is to encourage healthy exercise habits early in medical school in students in hopes that these future physicians will be able to better advice their future patients on weight loss and exercise. The results of the study will be reported in May 2017. I have participated in a similar program when I worked at MGH as a researcher coordinator. The hospital tried to encourage healthy habits by providing free gym membership and training sessions to employees. The study also split employees into teams and encouraged healthy competition among teams in terms of health goals (weight loss, HDL, % body fat). I did not stay long enough to know the results of that study but it was very effective for me. When I started medical school, there was little encouragement to keep up with personal health, which includes exercise. By my third year exercise became the lowest of my priorities. I hope that more medical schools and residency programs follow NYIT’s example and provide incentives for their students and residents to stay healthy.
- New York Institute of Technology. “How can we make tomorrow’s doctors healthier now?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160921170904.htm>.