Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

Changing gears


At the start of the pandemic, I permanently switched my commute from car to bike. I'm now passionate about motivating patients to be more active.

I always knew cycling would help my fitness—new leg muscles and a resting heart rate below 60 prove that. I’ve become one of those irritatingly vociferous cyclists some might call “bloody cyclists” in the U.K. (fairly apt considering I’m a hematologist).

That time on my bike does more than just sculpt my calves, though. It helps me clear my head, process challenging conversations, and formulate better treatment plans. I am a stronger, more focused doctor for it.

This got me thinking—if physical activity can benefit me this much, how can I inspire and motivate others to experience the same? Here are some ideas for both colleagues and patients:

1. Be supportive.

Avoid lecturing or making people feel self-conscious about their current activity levels. Chat about the support and resources you know of, like local walking/running groups or online sessions.

2. Focus on the benefits.

Highlight how exercise can improve mental health, sleep, energy levels,  cardiovascular health, and even reduce overall mortality by 40%.

3. Choose exercise that’s enjoyable.

Any exercise is good, so explore activities that feel funit might be dancing, a good walk, or even cold water swimming.

4. Celebrate progress, not perfection.

A focus on building sustainable habits is key, not achieving Olympic-level fitness overnight. Be realistic and fit activity into and around daily routines.

By focusing on making physical activity enjoyable, we can empower both colleagues and patients to reap the incredible benefits of an active lifestyle.