Ever since the pandemic struck, medical professionals have been in demand 24/7. But have you ever thought how doctors who help millions stay alive and healthy, keep fit? Amid their crazy busy and erratic schedule and stressful and risk-filled life, doctors need to incorporate a healthy routine too. Top doctors share with us the diet and workout regimen that keep them healthy.
Swimming, marathon and cyclotron expert
Dr GV Rao, Chief of Surgical Gastro-enterology & Minimally Invasive Surgery, director of AIG Hospitals, Hyderabad, is one of the well-known fitness enthusiast doctors from the city. He participates in walkathons, marathons and cyclotrons to raise awareness about ailments, be it cancer or coronavirus, and for promoting fitness among denizens.
“Pre-corona days, one-hour of swimming, six days a week was a must for me. It then changed to more than two hours of walking, which consisted of 15,000–20,000 steps per day. As the workload increased, the step count decreased but I switched to cycling and treadmill and climbing staircases to cut the calories. I follow a high-fibre diet with antioxidant-rich colourful vegetables and fruits. I avoid high calorie junk food, and for protein intake I prefer taking only lean meat and egg whites,” says Dr Rao. “Since obesity is the root cause of several lifestyle diseases and enhances mortality in COVID cases, I recommend people to install apps on their smartphones just like I have, to keep a tab on their diet, calorie and steps per day to stay motivated and track their fitness progress,” says Dr GV Rao.
Cardiovascular exercises are the best
Dr Sudhir Reddy, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Landmark Hospital, tells us that he’s been a fitness enthusiast for some time but took up running about five years ago. “Since then, I’ve run several half marathons and one full marathon in Mumbai, which was in 2017,” he says. “The COVID-19 lockdown gave me a great opportunity to re-focus on my health and fitness. Now I am back to my extremely busy schedule but I make it a point to run 12 km in an hour, usually on a treadmill, thrice a week. I believe that rather than going for short time medications and diet, good cardiovascular exercise is the most effective immunity builder which only builds with time. With the confidence my fitness gave me, I could face many COVID patients regularly without much fear, though I do take all the required precautions. Even today, despite my busy schedule, I try to walk a lot while going on rounds to check on patients in the hospital and take the stairs instead of lifts.”
Couple goals towards fitness
Dr R Kalyan Varma and his wife Dr Lohitha are very fitness conscious. Dr Lohitha is a dentist. The soon-to-be-mother is now more into yoga and meditation to stay fit and healthy.
In his teens, the now 33-year-old Dr Varma, who’s presently associated with Gitam Medical College, used to play district-level cricket. However, while studying medicine abroad, he started gaining weight.
“I came back to India for my post-graduation in forensic medicine and toxicology. People made fun of my weight. That’s when I took up the challenge to get fit and transform myself. During this journey towards a ‘healthy me’, I started a gym. When all gyms remained closed during the pandemic, I used to go for a daily 45 minutes brisk walk or jogging. I also ensure I maintain a high-protein, low-calorie diet as I believe one’s food choices are an integral part of any fitness regime. ”
Sports relieve stress, help deal with challenges
For Dr Suman Das, radiation oncologist, Apollo Hospital Health City, the availability of tennis courts in the city helped him learn and play tennis daily. In fact, despite his busy professional schedule, he devotes at least an hour to some sport like tennis, cycling and running because he believes such physical activities not only helps to relieve stress but also teaches one to deal with one’s professional challenges.
“Last year, I also conducted a tournament, in which 45 doctors participated. After tennis courts closed during the 2020 lockdown, I took up cycling. Today, I cycle 30 km to 50 km daily. I did my first 200 km ride in March 2021 from Vizag to Srikakulam, riding nine hours continuously. A few cycling clubs here promote endurance cycling like 100 to 600 km rides. During the second lockdown, I associated myself with a group called the Vizag Runners. Recently, some of our group members did a 75-km run commemorating India’s 75th Independence Day,” says Dr Suman Das.
Diet is the key to staying healthy
Prior to COVID, Dr Pujitha Devi Suraneni, senior consultant, high risk obstetrician and laparoscopic surgeon, KIMS Hospital, Kondapur, would work out in the community gym and sometimes go on treks in and around the city.
“But now my physical activity is restricted to daily walks in my house or going for rounds in the hospital and using the steps instead of the elevator. At times, to de-stress, I dance with my little daughter too. Since this physical activity is not adequate, I balance my calorie intake with a healthy diet coupled with intermittent fasting. For instance, I eat two full meals — breakfast (before 9 am) and dinner (by 7 pm). During lunch, I usually eat fruits and vegetables, sugarless tea or coffee. If I need to attend an emergency case and there is no time for breakfast, I eat dry fruits like anjeer, walnuts and dates, which provide instant energy,” says Dr Pujitha.
A 5-km morning walk, my energy-booster
Dr PV Sudhakar has been one the busiest government doctors, especially since the pandemic struck. Apart from being the head of plastic surgery department at King George Hospital and the principal of Andhra Medical College, the efficient medical man was put in multiple full-and part-time administrative roles by the district administration. He is also the nodal officer for COVID for three districts of North Coastal Andhra Pradesh.
“Rain or sunshine or a super hectic schedule has not been able to deter me from my daily one-hour brisk walks (five kilometres) on the scenic Beach Road. This early morning walk helps me stay agile and active all day while juggling between official duties. If I am unable to go outdoors for a walk, I walk on the treadmill in incline mode at home,” says Dr Sudhakar.