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Physical Activity, Quality of Life, and Burnout Among Physician Trainees: The Effect of a Team-Based, Incentivized Exercise Program



      To prospectively study the effects of an incentivized exercise program on physical activity (PA), quality of life (QOL), and burnout among residents and fellows (RFs) in a large academic medical center.

      Participants and Methods

      In January 2011, all RFs at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota (N=1060), were invited to participate in an elective, team-based, 12-week, incentivized exercise program. Both participants and nonparticipants had access to the same institutional exercise facilities. Regardless of participation, all RFs were invited to complete baseline and follow-up (3-month) assessments of PA, QOL, and burnout.


      Of the 628 RFs who completed the baseline survey (59%), only 194 (31%) met the US Department of Health and Human Services recommendations for PA. Median reported QOL was 70 on a scale of 1 to 100, and 182 (29%) reported at least weekly burnout symptoms. A total of 245 individuals (23%) enrolled in the exercise program. No significant differences were found between program participants and nonparticipants with regard to baseline demographic characteristics, medical training level, PA, QOL, or burnout. At study completion, program participants were more likely than nonparticipants to meet the Department of Health and Human Services recommendations for exercise (48% vs 23%; P<.001). Quality of life was higher in program participants than in nonparticipants (median, 75 vs 68; P<.001). Burnout was lower in participants than in nonparticipants, although the difference was not statistically significant (24% vs 29%; P=.17).


      A team-based, incentivized exercise program engaged 23% of RFs at our institution. After the program, participants had higher PA and QOL than nonparticipants who had equal exercise facility access. Residents and fellows may be much more sedentary than previously reported.

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      BMI (body mass index), HHS (Department of Health and Human Services), MBI (Maslach Burnout Inventory), PA (physical activity), QOL (quality of life), RF (resident and fellow)
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