Exercise is not an optional activity and climate change is here. Both these facts are backed by sound science. I feel we as doctors are morally obliged to promote the health and well being of our patients and by extension humanity. So why aren't we all on our bikes showing our patients how to make healthy, sustainable choices? As I wind my way to work on my bike about 10km through the southern suburbs of Perth, I ponder these things. I travel past a wetland full of water fowl and over some gently undulating old dune systems to the coast. I notice things about my environment - the wind, the temperature, the smell of the salt air which go unnoticed if I travel by car. I reflect on my relationship with these things , my family and my work and it clears the cobwebs from my mind.
I enjoy building up a pressure head of steam so I bring a change of clothes and have a 'sponge bath' when I get to work. Not having a shower at the other end doesn't really matter (a common excuse for not cycling) and it helps having a hairstyle that can be resurrected after being flattened under my helmet. I think what I lose by not being primped and perfumed I make up for by looking fit and enthusiastic! I usually leave my bike helmet on my desk and it acts as a talking point about healthy lifestyle. As I presently work at a skin cancer clinic, I often talk about being sunsafe while exercising. When I formerly worked in solo rural practice, I frequently rode my bike the short distance to the surgery and hospital. This possibly raised the odd eyebrow as the former GP had a taste for prestige cars. It wasn't a bad way of waking up in a hurry for an emergency.
My husband also rides his bike to work when he can ( he has twice as far to go as me) and we try to ride to school with the kids. The kids love their bikes too and we have more of a 'problem' with them being underweight than obese.
All this takes a bit of juggling and conscious effort but it's worth it. We save money, have fun, get fit and help the environment.
Dr Irene Kirczenow, General Practitioner Perth