When I started residency, I promised myself I would never pass along to patients the medical and psychiatric advice my parents gave me. Not that my parents gave uniformly bad advice; some of it has helped me—a fact that has taken me decades to admit. The issue was that I wanted to be a scientific practitioner, rather than a purveyor of conventional wisdom.
This stance, of course, has created problems for me. I’m sure much of what my parents told me is true, even though we don’t have much supporting data. So whenever a paper confirms what seems like common knowledge, I feel happy.
That’s why I appreciate the article on exercise and mental health in this month’s issue. It validates what my parents told me and what I have always believed: exercise really does improve psychological well-being. The evidence has been in the literature, but until Sheila M. Dowd, PhD, Kristin S. Vickers, PhD, and Dean Krahn, MD, reviewed it for me, I was not sure I could believe it.
Now, if I can just get myself to start some sort of exercise, I will be really happy.