The Fitness of Health Care

“Fit, what do we need to be fit for?” These were the words of W. W. Bauer, MD, as he patted his considerable paunch on national television.

The answer, I guess, depends on whom you ask.

In 1969 Bonnie gave six reasons for being physically fit in an interview for the Journal of Physical Education: November / December. Here are 3 of them.

  1. “We should be physically fit to do the work for which our lives are intended. Since no one knows (at birth) what his task will be, good sense says prepare for anything and everything.”
  2. “We all must have enough strength to reach out to others. We are all here to help each other and we need to have an extra margin of strength to be able to do this.”
  3. “We need a level of fitness to get us through each day’s work successfully. This is different from the task of our lives. Making a living requires different amounts of fitness, depending on the profession.”

Bonnie Prudden drawing of various careers

The Death of Physical Education
Physical Education started its death march in 1929 with the Great Depression when European apparatus — which used the body in a multiple of ways — was put in the closet and substituted with games and balls, wonderful for those who were already fit and liked sport. Girls and those not inclined naturally were left by the wayside. Those who once moved naturally through our way of life began to sit and watch and sit and eat and sit and ride.

And so it is today.

Leadership Lacking
The country is sorely lacking in leadership when it comes to REAL Physical Education / Physical Fitness. Apparently the subject is unimportant to the medical profession. In a study by Oregon State University cited in Science Daily, March 31, 2015 a review of medical school curriculums showed that a “majority of U.S. institutions did not offer any courses on physical activity, and when the courses were offered, they were rarely required.”

The researchers reviewed medical school web sites, schools of medicine, and osteopathic medicine. “One hundred eighteen of the 170 accredited schools had curriculum information available online. Of those, 51 percent offered no physical activity related coursework, and 21 percent offered only one course. And 82 percent of the schools reviewed did not require students to take any physical activity-related courses.”

Understanding exercise and how to help patients is really important, but physicians who have the opportunity to play a significant role in assisting and advising patients lack the education, skills and confidence to educate those seeking their help.

Bonnie Prudden drawing of graduates

Bonnie Prudden drawing of graduates fallingMassage Schools
In 1998 I sat chatting over lunch with my friend Margaret Avery Moon. Margaret was the founder and owner of the Desert Institute of the Healing Arts (DIHA), established 1982.

I would characterize Margaret as gritty, tenacious, smart and with common sense. She was one of the first people to become Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, a credential that became available in 1992.

What is missing from most Massage Schools — and in fact schools and other educational institutions throughout this country — are common sense enjoyable programs of exercise that build the strength and flexibility needed to work comfortably and assure that a career goes on for as along as desired.

Our conversation that day turned to the physical fitness needs of the student massage therapist. And I suggested that I could develop a course especially for her students based on the Bonnie Prudden program of Exercise.

Margaret agreed and so Fitness for the Body Worker was born.

Fitness for the Body Worker
During the 14 week, 90-minute class, I led them through an hour of exercise consisting of warm-ups, floor work, endurance, flexibility and relaxation. They used small exercise equipment: Frisbees®, wands, straps, paddles with streamers… all to music. They tested for muscle strengths and weaknesses, developed a personal fitness program based on their goals and daily time allotments. They learned the role of stress, developed a par court for the school, were taught how to use gym equipment safely, and then as their final, each led a 3 minute choreographed routine for their classmates based on their own personal goals. Each routine was followed by much clapping and cheering — including one perfectly choreographed routine led by the young man with spina bifida. This time the clapping and cheering was mixed with tears of genuine appreciation and respect.

Bonnie Prudden drawing of two in pain looking in mirrorWhat is Needed
Students of anything need exercise not only to prepare their bodies for what is yet to come but also to use their bodies as a way of offsetting muscle tension before it has time to make itself known in the form of muscle aches and pain.

Exercise helps us focus. Intermittent exercise throughout the day makes for a better student, a better teaching environment and better grades.

Whether your “office” is a classroom, home, field or cubicle, mini-breaks throughout your day will give your muscles a release from tension and your brain a boost of oxygen. You’ll have better focus, accomplish more in less time and the end of day will find you with the energy to enjoy your evening.

Want to know more? See my December 2015 blog, Whatever Happened to Real Physical Education? and What’s Your “Daily Dozen”? from January 2015.

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For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help.

The drawings pictured in this blog were done by Bonnie Prudden.

Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®