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Physician Chooses Steps for a Healthy Lifestyle

A first-time race experience for one Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta physician was a positive one, and he hopes to continue participating in a local Atlanta 5K year after year.

Sampath Prahalad, MD, a Pediatric Rheumatologist at Children’s, is no stranger to hitting his daily steps target. With his Fitbit buzzing on his wrist, he regularly exceeds the 10,000 step goal—especially on his inpatient on-call days at Children’s Egleston Hospital.

“Every day I am on call in the hospital, I find myself choosing the stairs over waiting for the elevators,” he says. “I know that I’m burning more calories and it’s good for me.”

While participating in Corporate Athlete training for physicians, Dr. Prahalad learned about the Kaiser Permanente 5K Run, Walk & Stroll—Children’s largest annual employee event—and decided to sign up as part of the physician team. “After Corporate Athlete training, I felt motivated, and the race felt like something I could do,” he says.

Beyond his usual workouts taking the stairs in the hospital, Dr. Prahalad went about his preparation through light, consistent training. “In rheumatology, we tell our patients to pursue activities as tolerated, so that’s what I did,” he adds.

Using his Fitbit and going to a high school track near his home, Dr. Prahalad calculated that 11 laps around the oval equaled the length of a 5K race. Once or twice each week, he would walk and run around the track for 3.1 miles.

"My daughters would run with me on the track and encourage me,” he said. “As I was getting near my final laps, they would walk, run or bike with me.”

On race day, Dr. Prahalad worked long clinic hours but was determined to conquer the 5K course. He was joined at the starting line by other clinical staff members he works with on a regular basis. “It was amazing to see the Children’s staff tent so full of life and activity and people making a healthy choice for themselves,” he says.

Dr. Prahalad took off running with the Children’s team and bumped into a friend of his on the course. They ran alongside each other for most of the race. As he made his way down the final hill, his family was there to cheer him on at the finish line.

“The goal of completing the race helped me keep going and kept my family engaged,” he says. “I could have decided not to do it, but my wife and family encouraged me to do it.”

And Dr. Prahalad plans to continue to participate in the annual 5K. “For me, it was a new experience, and I am glad I tried it out,” he says. “I look back, and it was a lot of fun—a really nice day.”

And between race days, you can still find him in the stairwell at Egleston Hospital on his on-call days and hitting his step goals on his way to see patients.

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