In late-September 2016, my travels took me back to the Middle East and Doha, Qatar. I was there to lecture at an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) sponsored symposium on “New Developments in Sports Medicine”. This was held at the beautiful Aspetar Clinic in Doha and featured several of my long-time friends and colleagues including Drs. Bill Dexter, Bert Fields and Rob Johnson. This trip was part of an ongoing collaboration between ACSM and the Sports Medicine Hospital in Doha as Qatar ramps up to host the World Track and Field Championships in 2019 and the Soccer World Cup in 2022. Qatar is in the midst of building stadiums and adding infrastructure to be able to host these major sporting events. It has been fun to collaborate with their sports medicine physicians who come from around the world to work in Doha.
I gave 2 lectures at the symposium and the first was titled “Maybe You Can Out-Run a Bad Diet”. In this talk I reviewed the data proving that regular physical activity can significantly mitigate the harmful health effects of being overweight or obese. I feel this is such an important message, because too often my obese patients seem to lose hope when they can’t lose weight and fail to realize that the health benefits of exercise are not tied to losing weight. In fact, studies tell us that you are better off being fat and fit, than skinny and unfit. So while I always stress to my patients the importance of a healthy diet (eat food, mostly plants and not too much!), I make sure they understand that regular exercise is just as important to good health.
My second talk was an update on Sports Related Concussions. In this talk I reviewed some of the current hysteria regarding concussions, especially as it relates to American Football. I feel that much of the media reporting about the dangers of sports related concussions have been over-blown and may be turning children and adolescents away from sports. This could have a much more serious impact on health than the effects of concussion ever will. While we need to better understand the risks of concussion, we must be very cautious about making sweeping statements based on a few isolated cases. As an example, the press has repeatedly ran stories suggesting that NFL players with a history of concussion are more at risk for suicide and this idea was suggested in the Movie “Concussion”, starring Denzel Washington. However, studies actually show that former NFL players are 40% LESS likely than the general male population to commit suicide. I feel that scaring kids away from sports is only going to exacerbate the inactivity problem, which is much more a threat to health than concussions.
Of course while in Doha I made sure to do a lot of walking. Doha is a very walkable city with some great sights to see. I really enjoyed a visit to the Islamic Museum of Art and a chance to visit the exhibits and walk around the beautiful grounds that surround the museum (see photo at the top).
Thank you for reading my blog and spreading the word about the tremendous health benefits that walking brings.
Keep walking my friends!