The 2011 Champions of Health and Fitness
Pages in this Story:
- America's Doctor: Regina Benjamin, MD
- Compassionate Medicine: Roseanna Means, MD
- The Wheel Deal: Chris Carney
- Budding Genius: Donna Cavato
- Tough-Love Trainer: Jillian Michaels
- Healing Force: Kathryn Schmitz, PhD
- Class Act: John Skretta
- Action Heroine: Jessica Biel
- Social Networker: Chris Downie
- Food Revolutionary: Jamie Oliver
America's Doctor: Regina Benjamin, MD
By Cristina Goyanes
The U.S. surgeon general, Regina Benjamin, MD, knows how hard it is to squeeze exercise into a busy schedule. In the year since she took office, she's been on the road three to four days a week. But still she manages to make time to work out, and she's determined to help all Americans do the same. "Exercise is the new medicine. It will make you feel a lot better," says Dr. Benjamin, who puts on her sneakers and walks around the airport when she's between flights. "If you do 30 minutes a day, you get so many benefits."
To launch her get-moving mission, last January she released "The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation," her grassroots plan for combating the obesity epidemic. Among other things, she has called on employers to encourage physical activity through group classes at work, on physicians to talk to patients about how their weight can affect their health, and on families to become more active and limit TV viewing to two hours a day.
"I want to move from a negative conversation about disease to a positive conversation about being healthy and fit," Dr. Benjamin explains. "We need to stop bombarding people with what they can't do and start talking about what they enjoy doing." Take walking, one of Dr. Benjamin's favorite activities: Last June in Baltimore, she kicked off an initiative called the Surgeon General's Walk for a Healthy and Fit Nation, the first of many such walks she will do with citizens throughout the country. Off the clock, she's an avid hiker who did a rim-to-rim trek through the Grand Canyon last fall.
To set the nation on a path to better health, Dr. Benjamin is heading a council of government experts to develop a national prevention strategy that will be released in March. "This is the first time that the entire government is attempting to make it easier for Americans to be healthy," she says. "It has become everyone's issue."
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