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The Busy Person’s Guide to Exercise


Some people’s work and home schedules make it tough to exercise regularly, if at all. Then there’s UPMC’s Eric Anish, MD, who might be the busiest of them all.

The UPMC Shadyside-based doctor spends most of his workday as a primary care physician seeing patients. But he also teaches in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and in the UPMC Sports Medicine Department. He also works the sideline at Duquesne University football and basketball games as team physician. And he does frequent consulting work for the U.S. Olympic Committee. In addition, he is a dedicated husband and a father of three. And he happens to be one of the best runners in Pittsburgh. In 2009 he ran an amazing marathon — 26 miles in 2 hours, 38 minutes — at age 40.

The question is, How does Dr. Anish fit regular exercise into his crazy schedule?

“The key for me is to get up early and exercise first thing,” says Anish. “Every workday can be quite different for me, which is good in some ways, but it can be tough on my exercise routine. To make sure I get my workout in, I do it early, before the chaos hits.”

And to those who’d rather get that extra 30 to 60 minutes of sleep in the morning than exercise, Anish says, “Research shows that regular exercise significantly improves sleep quality. So even if you get a little less of it, it’s better quality, so you end up with more mental and physical energy during the day.”

As for his ability to exercise regularly over many years, Anish says, “I’ve been a runner since I was eight years old. Some people hear that and think it must be easy for me somehow. Like I’m hooked on it so it’s not even a conscious decision to run or not. But I’m just like everyone else. I have to choose to do it. Lots of times I’d rather stay in bed. But once I’ve finished my workout, I feel great about it all day long.”

More Anish wisdom

On planning: “Each week I figure out which days I’ll be running and at what times. But if something comes up and I can’t do my run, I don’t let myself feel guilty about it. I don’t let it become another source of stress.”

On being consistent: “When I get hurt or can’t run for extended periods, I make sure I substitute the running with something else that keeps me fit, like walking, cycling, or swimming. This helps me stay with everything else that goes along with my running, such as good sleeping and eating habits.”

On prioritizing: “It’s so important to make exercise a priority. Why shouldn’t it be? It does so much for us. It makes us feel better, it gives us more energy, it helps keep us at a healthy weight, it lowers disease risk, it makes us live longer. If you could take a pill that would do all this, everyone would be taking it!”