What Can Interval Training Do for Ophthalmologists?

As an ophthalmologist, do you receive enough exercise? Are you happy with your fitness program? Is it difficult to find time to work out because your schedule is so busy?

Today I will discuss interval training, a workout program that can add substantial benefits to your overall health and fitness levels – without cutting into your career.

Fitness and ophthalmologists

In general, ophthalmologists are very good at getting enough exercise. The Medscape 2016 Physician Lifestyle Survey found that ophthalmologists are more likely to exercise at least twice a week than the majority of other physicians, coming in at third place in a list of 25 medicine specialists. (Physicians who work in orthopedics and dermatology earn second and first place respectively.)

Ophthalmologists are also less likely to be overweight or obese than other medical professionals, ranking second lowest in the 2016 Physician Lifestyle Survey. (Physicians with the highest rate of obesity include pulmonologists, family physicians, and emergency medical doctors.)

Even though MOST ophthalmologists have healthy exercise habits, many still struggle to find the time to work-out. After all, a busy doctor must juggle a jampacked schedule filled with patients, procedures and surgeries. How can they find the time to stay in shape?

Thankfully, there are creative and efficient ways to build our fitness levels without spending tremendous amounts of time. One way to accomplish this is by interval training.

What is interval training?

Interval training is a workout that involves alternating high intensity exercise with low intensity exercise or rest.

Think of the last time you biked up a hill. While climbing that hill, you were essentially performing an “interval” of high intensity exercise. Once you reached level ground, your exercise intensity lowered and you started to recover some of your energy. This phase is known as active recovery.

To start off with, I recommend performing higher intensity bursts for 30-60 seconds followed by an equal or longer interval of active recovery. As an example, try sprinting on a treadmill for 60 seconds, then walking briskly or jogging for 60 to 120 seconds. According to Jason Stella, Life Time National Brand Developer and Personal Trainer, novices can perform high intensity intervals for as short as 10 seconds, whereas competitive athletes may be able to exert themselves for several minutes.

Generally, intervals are performed and repeated for 4-8 times in a workout. Recovery time between interval workouts should be about 3-4 days for most participants.

If you’re ready to start interval training, speak with your physician and a personal trainer about to how to proceed based on your abilities and goals.

This blog is part of a series written by our friend Kirk McFarland, CPT, NASM, NSCA. Kirk is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach with Life Time Fitness in Eden Prairie, MN. This article was created to help Sightpath surgeons alleviate health and wellness issues often faced by those in the ophthalmology industry.