Objectives: This paper examines the personal exercise habits of women physicians and the effect of those habits on how they counsel their patients on exercise.
Methods: Using the Women Physicians' Health Study (WPHS), a national questionnaire-based survey (n=4501), we analyzed responses of women physicians regarding personal and clinical exercise-related practices.
Results: Nearly all (96%) women physicians reported exercising. Forty-nine percent exercised enough to meet the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommendations, and these physicians were more likely to be unmarried, to be white, to have light stress at home and work, to have female physicians, to be in good health, and to not feel overweight. Physicians complying with ACSM recommendations also were more likely to counsel patients on exercise, to counsel confidently, and to be trained in counseling. Those having a high priority to exercise more were more likely to counsel on exercise. Fifty-nine percent of female primary care practitioners and 33% of female specialists counseled typical patients at least yearly on exercise.
Conclusion: Women physicians are relatively good exercise role models for their patients. However, many (especially those not regularly exercising themselves) could more frequently counsel their patients regarding exercise.