As a family physician for 33 years, Dr. Mike Sitorius spends time stressing the importance of staying physically active to his patients. And while the doctor, 61, logs 60+ hours a week on the job, as well as serves a leadership role at UNMC, he still finds time to practice what he preaches. Some might say he “walks the walk.” Literally.
“I played a lot of basketball up until about my mid-50s when arthritis in my knees forced me to give it up,” Dr. Sitorius says. “Then I took up walking. I prefer to walk at work and try to get in 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. I used to use a pedometer, but nowadays I have a pretty good gauge without one.”
That may seem like a lot of steps, but Dr. Sitorius says climbing the stairs whenever possible, taking “the long way” to meetings, and walking the six blocks between buildings on the UNMC campus several times daily allow him to rack up steps pretty quickly.
“It’s good physical activity, but it’s the mental part, too…Walking allows me good thinking time,” he adds. He also enjoys walking with his wife, Marilyn, a radiologist, in their Omaha neighborhood two or three times a week when the weather allows. “It’s a great time for us catch up on things with one another.”
Dr. Sitorius says he stretches and does balancing exercises regularly as well. “No tools or equipment needed…just my body.”
Mental exercise is as important as physical exercise, especially for the aging body, he declares. “Mental activity creates a sense of well-being and a better perception of one’s physical health. I encourage everyone to read—not just a novel but anything—or do something mentally stimulating…Learn something new. Right now, I’m trying to learn all of the new technology out there, one small bit at a time.”
One should not underestimate the importance of socializing to one’s health either, Dr. Sitorius says. “It’s easy to become disconnected to other groups, especially with all the technology today. Personal interaction is important. I love everything sports, and I always found time to socialize following my children’s high school and college sport teams (and with five children, that’s a lot of games!) and I’m a huge Husker fan—not just football but all [university] sports.”
He also stays connected, both personally and professionally, with his peers, serving on the Nebraska Advisory Commission for Rural Health and the Bellevue Medical Center Board.
Think balancing it all is tough with the doctor’s busy schedule? “My dad (who was a rural general practicioner) used to work 110-120 hours a week. He would have no sympathy for my schedule,” he says with a chuckle.