Increasing Resident Physician Well-Being through a Motivational Fitness Curriculum: A Pilot Study


  • Ruth Nutting, Ph.D.
  • Justin T. Grant, D.O.
  • Samuel Ofei-Dodoo, Ph.D., MPA, M.A.
  • Matthew S. Runde, D.O.
  • Kethlyn A. Staab, M.A.
  • Barret R. Richard, M.D.



Introduction. Healthcare professionals who participate in regular exercise better manage job related stressors, utilize fewer sick days, and discuss fitness with patients at increased rates. Although resident physicians are aware of the health benefits of exercise their rates of exercise are much lower than among medical trainees and practicing physicians. Resident physicians have reported lack of time for traditional structured workouts as one of the greatest barriers to fitness. This study sought to increase resident physician well-being by providing brief workouts through a motivational fitness curriculum.

Methods. This pilot study utilized a nonexperimental design; a pre-/post-intervention consisted of a 10-month motivational fitness curriculum. Thirteen family medicine residents at a training program in the midwestern United States participated in this study. The Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) and the Abbreviated Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI-9) were used to measure the participants’ well-being, pre- and post-curriculum. Standard descriptive statistics and paired samples t-test were used to analyze the data.

Results. Twenty-eight percent (13/36) of eligible first-year and second-year family medicine resident physicians participated in the study. On the DASS-21, study participants displayed an improvement in depression, anxiety, and stress scores post-curriculum. On the MBI-9, the participants reported decreased score in emotional exhaustion, but there were no changes in depersonalization and personal accomplishment scores over time.
Conclusion. A motivational fitness curriculum may be a convenient way to support well-being among resident physicians. These findings were salient, as graduate medical education programs can implement similar initiatives to support resident physicians’ psychological and physical well-being.






Original Research