Resident Physicians Conquer Fitness Challenge

February 28, 2023 | Emma Huebner, MD

DAPM Resident Physicians on a 5k run

Members of the UCLA DAPM Resident Wellness Committee decided to spice up the level of competition from our normal activities by creating a Fitness Challenge to span the month of February 2023. While we initially toyed with the idea of a graded points system, in which various activities would be weighted according to their level of difficulty, we ultimately settled on a friendly competition that would promote movement and activity in any shape or form.

Participants in the challenge were asked to join Strava, a social media platform for recording and sharing exercise activities, from running and biking to pickleball and kitesurfing. Points were tallied weekly based on the number of minutes of exercise completed by each individual participant. Each residency class competed for the highest cumulative point total over the course of the month.

The fitness challenge was envisioned by Micaela Zywicki, MD, a CA-2 resident physician and Wellness Committee member. Dr. Zywicki, an avid cyclist and Strava athlete, wanted to develop a method to get more of her co-residents moving on a daily basis. When asked about her motivation for creating the challenge, she said, “I wanted a way to bring people together, coordinate activities, and spread wellness through outdoor and indoor activities! Seeing the range of activities people are participating in has been super rewarding and motivating as well.”

To kick off the month, Dr. Zywicki and several other members of the Wellness Committee organized a 5K run along Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. The event was followed by social time and necessary carbohydrate loading with sandwiches from Bay Cities Deli. As the fitness challenge continued in subsequent weeks, participants embraced the friendly competition and enjoyed sharing their activities outside of work.

DAPM Resident Fitness Challenge in Big Bear

A handful of resident physicians had vacations in February, taking their activities outside of Los Angeles and even abroad. Jennifer Nam, MD, MBA, CA-2, toured Korea and shared photos from her walks throughout the cities she visited. Justine Liang, MD, CA-2, vacationed to Sedona, Arizona, and recorded several hiking adventures while there.

Many members of the CA-3 residency class took advantage of the long President’s Day weekend to ski and snowboard at Big Bear Mountain Resort. Christian Dib, MD, CA-3, brought his dog to the snow with him. Dr. Dib recorded many “snoot walks” over the month featuring his pup. This was a common theme during the fitness challenge among participants with furry compatriots. Christopher Little, MD, CA-3, further popularized the “snoot walk” with an “ATL edition” while visiting his dog in Atlanta, GA.

Speaking of snow, ski days continued through the end of the month, with record snowfall bringing uncharacteristically dry, deep powder to the Sierras. The subsequent rainfall that Los Angeles received forced many people to exercise indoors at the gym, but this did not stop them from getting in their minutes and racking up points.

While many resident physicians enjoyed their days off by traveling and venturing outside, others had to squeeze in exercise time between busy weeks at the hospital. Ashley Adams, MD, CA-2, recently finished her two-month cardiac anesthesiology rotation; her workouts at the gym featured creative titles, such as “A break from the broken hearts and lungs,” “METS > 4,” and “S/p one hemothorax and one pericardial effusion.”

DAPM Resident Physicians at the top of a mountain

Participants proved that Strava points are even achievable in the middle of 24-hour call. Michaelyn Nguyen, MD, CA-1, recorded walks around the Greater Los Angeles VA Medical Center campus during a lull in the Surgical ICU. Dr. Nguyen managed to find beauty with her camera in the various fields surrounding the hospital campus. Deep Patel, MD, CA-2, squeezed in some weights while on obstetric anesthesiology call, titling his workout “OB call room in between epidurals…Ty to the single 30-lb dumbbell.”

The March 1st totals rang in, crowning the CA-2 class victorious, followed by a strong second place effort by the CA-3 class. The fitness challenge was enthusiastically received and became significantly more popular than originally anticipated—so much so that the Resident Wellness Committee hopes to revive it in the months to come.

The Strava platform not only allows resident physicians to track their activity over time, but it also promotes a sense of community in our daily activities: tennis matches after work, Sunday morning walks to the local farmer’s market, weekend trips to the snow, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts at the gym, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

The DAPM Resident Wellness Committee hopes to keep the fitness challenge alive with different features each month to highlight the various activities that we participate in to destress, enjoy time outside of the hospital, and keep our minds and bodies well.