Drs. Brad Bernardini, Robert Greenleaf, and James Sanfilippo on the Atlantic City Ironman Triathlon

Brad Bernardini, M.D., Robert Greenleaf, M.D., and James Sanfilippo, M.D., M.B.A., discuss the challenges of the IRONMAN® as well as the impact they are hoping to have on the community.

Please see below for the full video transcript.

Dr. Bernardini: One of the things that really impacted me, and everybody has these moments, was the NBC coverage of the Kona IRONMAN World Championship. And I think watching that event and kind of the hype around it and the energy it really connected with me. There was something about the culture of that sport that really drew me so that's really what started my kind of love for triathlons.

Dr. Greenleaf: We're trying to be an example to the community by sort of reinforcing the need for daily exercise. Daily exercise is the best prophylaxis; it's the best medicine to avoid these chronic health problems. And by being an example and telling patients and being out there and exposing ourselves and getting our name out there and people saying, “Well, look, Reconstructive Orthopedics, they really care about exercise; I think they really care about us.”

Dr. Sanfilippo: When you look at how do you change a community, how do you change the world, you know, it's one person at a time. And you know, we're not just preaching about exercise, we're doing it ourselves, and it's setting that example for everybody else. But you know, it's the heart, it's the lungs, and it's the brain to me that is the, you know, the triumphant that gets that big benefit out of the exercise.

Dr. Bernardini: It was in the early '90s really that I started doing these races and then started doing full distance races, meaning an IRONMAN distance, in 2010. The mental part of triathlon I think breeds a certain optimism, and I think that optimism spills over into my professional life. Treating athletes is as much psychology sometimes as it is, you know, the physical.

Dr. Greenleaf: In the United States, we're so far advanced in our medical care in many ways, but in other ways, we're so far behind. We spend excessive amounts of our healthcare money on reactive treatments, on how to treat people, and they've already developed these problems, the obesity, the cardiac problems, the pulmonary problems, you know. We need to take a step back and look and say, “how can we prevent these things?” And I think the best example both from a mental and physical aspect is to focus on exercise because exercise certainly makes us healthier both mentally and physically.

Dr. Sanfilippo: To me, I was the perfect example of the chronic knee injury. Tore my first ACL when I was a freshman in high school, tore my second one when I was a freshman in college playing football, had them both reconstructed. And I will tell you before I got into this type of training I couldn't run more than three miles. A lot of what we do a with the orthopedic-type injuries and the spine-type injuries and even some of the chronic pain that we see with people that have these nagging injuries for a long time can be prevented by doing some of these things.

Dr. Greenleaf: The initial goals when you start doing these types of things are just to finish, just to survive. There's a lot of technique and strategy in the training because with these types of events, it's easy to get overuse injuries, especially as we get a little bit older, the body doesn't bounce back quite as well as it did when you were in your teens and 20s. So there's a great deal of strategy and a lot of mental effort that goes into these.

Dr. Sanfilippo: Somebody told me once when I got started with this was get comfortable being uncomfortable. There's a lot of times you're uncomfortable and, you know, trying to work with your mind and say that, you know, you can do this, you have done this, and to work through that.

Dr. Bernardini: My personal philosophy with new patients that come in is almost always to start with physical therapy or fitness program to try to optimize what the body's already been optimized to do, so things that can change with activity that not only is going to benefit them for the rest of their lives but that they can continue with on their own. We almost always start with nonoperative treatment, and that's a very important philosophy in our group. The future of healthcare is gonna be directed at preventative programs, and it shows that very minimal exercise, 20 minutes a day, can be as effective as quitting smoking, significantly changing a high fat or cholesterol diet in decreasing likelihood of chronic disease and illness. And I think the future of medicine is gonna be focused on prevention programs, in large part education programs about how important that exercise is, which is really what's behind the exercise is medicine campaign. One of the things that I like to talk to my patients about is that fact, even though I'm an orthopedic surgeon, to be able to get them to have a healthier lifestyle and understand this exercise is medicine philosophy, I think has been really critical.

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