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A Walk in the Park

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggested we may have been fooling ourselves a bit about the value of moderate exercise. Among Australians who exercised at all, the ratio of vigorous to moderate activity was an important predictor of mortality. This was true regardless of the total amount of exercise. Vigorous activity was defined as activity "that made you breathe harder or puff and pant," like jogging, cycling, aerobics, or competitive tennis ("Social" tennis and gentle swimming were examples of moderate activity.) Controlling for various demographic, dietary, and physical factors, the amount of overall activity was important in reducing mortality. That is no surprise.
More strikingly, the study indicated that the proportion of vigorous activity was also key in determining mortality. When exercise activity that made people huff and puff accounted for more than 30 percent of their physical activity, mortality over the next six years was reduced - not that I'm encouraging Dan Waxman to walk faster on the morning walks he enthusiastically leads at the ABC meetings. (Thank you, Dan!)
When I read this study, I thought about our work climate. We have fun, and the satisfaction of helping wonderful donors provide useful blood components to patients in need does not just go away. But our centers are not just strolling along. We huff and puff, working hard to make our organizations leaner and more efficient. We may painfully climb the hill to an affiliation or an acquisition, knowing that the accompanying work of integration is just beginning. We consider new services and models of service until our brains are practically panting. ABC itself is changing to keep up with our evolving industry. None of it is easy. None of it is a walk in the park.
But this is the run that will lead to our survival - to our ability to continue to serve our communities. More vigorous activity of our bodies leads to more physiological adaptations, and our vigorous efforts to adapt our blood centers to the current climate will lead our institutions to become stronger despite being stretched and stressed. We all have too much to do, and perhaps feel like our hearts are beating a little faster than is comfortable. But it's a sign of vigorous exercise - it's ok - it will actually make us healthier. We all need to get moving a little faster, and more of the time.
Susan Rossmann, MD, PhD, Board President;  snrossman@giveblood.org

Posted: 04/10/2015 | By: Susan Rossmann, MD, PhD, Board President | Permalink
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