Little is known about lifestyle choices and preventive healthcare-seeking behaviors during the transition from medical school graduation to residency training, a period characterized by increased rates of stress and lack of free time due to demanding working conditions. All of these issues are likely to affect physical activity (PA) level. This study explored the evolution of PA and other lifestyle behaviors during this transition.
A cross-sectional study and a cohort study were conducted with medical students (2010) and physicians before and after the first year of residency (2013 and 2014). A self-administered questionnaire assessed PA, health and lifestyle behaviors.
From a sample of 420 medical students and 478 residents, 74% comply with current PA guidelines. PA decreased by 16% during residency. Low levels of PA were found among (i) females and in respondents who reported (ii) poor self-perceived health and (iii) unhealthy body weight (P < .05). Low PA level was also significantly associated with poor mental health in first-year residents.
The transition has a negative effect on physicians’ PA level that may affect physicians’ own health and patient care. Medical programs should encourage residents to engage in PA to assure physicians’ personal and mental health.