Why this physician became a personal trainer

As many readers of my work know, I have a huge passion for preventive medicine, and balance my acute care hospital work with an outpatient wellness clinic. I have always been into exercise and outdoor activities since a young age but only became a regular gym-goer after I finished my medical residency training. I also became very keen on learning more about healthier nutrition habits. I don’t think I was as into this as I should have been when I was a medical student and the immediate few years afterwards, and my BMI and other lifestyle habits were heading in the wrong direction. My energy levels were also not where I wanted. As I dived into this whole area, I decided to write about it—and it was the subject of my first book, High Percentage Wellness Steps. The premise of the book was that everyday natural steps yield much better health results, when one looks at the research, than most medicines and treatments. From increasing your daily fiber and anti-oxidant intake, to getting outdoors and trying to adopt a more positive mindset: The evidence is overwhelming. If the ultimate goal of life is to be healthy and happy, then it has to start with our own habits and mindset.

Fast forward a few years, and I was working in a wellness clinic, now able to really focus on preventive medicine, assessing individual risk, and actually spending time with patients. However, I wanted to be able to advise my patients in more detail on how to exercise, than just the generic “be more active” mantra. So I decided to become a personal trainer too! Last summer, I began studying for an official certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). This certification is actually one of the harder ones to obtain in the industry, with a relatively high failure rate. It did require a lot of studying—even for someone who was already a physician. There was lots of new theory that I had no idea about previously, and I found myself back to memorizing muscles and all their actions. Overall, it was an excellent well-structured course. I sat the test, and I am pleased to report that Dr. Dhand is now a personal trainer!

Exercise is medicine, pure and simple. As well as helping you stay in shape, there’s a huge body of evidence that shows it’s better for you than most other treatments when it comes to increasing energy levels, reducing stress, and lifting your mood. In fact, there was research from Oxford and Yale published last year about how exercise actually makes people much happier than money. It’s very believable when you look around. Of course, what exercises people engage in, is an individualized decision—based on a number of factors, including age, enjoyment, and fitness goals.

I have a large number of ideas and plans about what I can do with this new qualification as a dual-qualified physician-personal trainer. I will likely specialize in advising patients and clients on weight loss, maintaining a healthy BMI under 25, and cardiovascular fitness. I’m excited about this new direction and look forward to sharing future blog articles that focus on this topic.

Suneel Dhand is an internal medicine physician, author, and co-founder, DocsDox. He can be reached at his self-titled site, Suneel Dhand, and on YouTube.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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