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Geisel medical student hosts online workouts through nonprofit

  • Geisel School of Medicine student Chris Lites, of Lebanon, N.H., demonstrates a portion of the exercises he may do for Medicine in Motion workouts at the Lebanon High School track on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Lebanon. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Logan Briggs competes for the Dartmouth College men's swimming team in an undated photograph. Briggs, now a third-year Harvard Medical School Student, is the co-founder of Medicine in Motion, a nonprofit with several chapters that runs exercise programs and events to help medical school students, medical professionals and the general public avoid burnout during the pandemic. (Courtesy Dartmouth Sports Information)

  • Geisel School of Medicine students Chris Lites, of Lebanon, N.H., left, Isabelle Tersio, of Enfield, N.H., and Zach Panton, of Lebanon, meet at the Lebanon High School track on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Lebanon. They are all leaders of the Dartmouth College chapter of Medicine in Motion, which is a group helping to keep medical students healthy and fit. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Logan Briggs

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/28/2020 10:16:54 AM
Modified: 5/28/2020 10:16:46 AM

HANOVER — Combine the pressure of classes with the pressure of learning the finer points of his future career and it’s no wonder Chris Lites looks forward to taking an occasional break from his Geisel School of Medicine studies.

Instead of work, he works out. And he has plenty of people joining him. Lites can credit Medicine in Motion for being in a position to offer a weekly online fitness class for the Geisel crowd. As one of the people in charge of the Dartmouth College chapter of the nonprofit organization, the first-year medical student and certified personal trainer has big plans.

“It was definitely geared with the sense of being by and for medical students, but in coming months and years I intend on expanding our audience to pretty much anyone,” Lites said in a phone interview last week. “Our message could be made of use by literally any person. We’re promoting health, fitness and reducing burnout. Exercise benefits anyone and everyone.”

Medicine in Motion has a definite Dartmouth green tint to it. In addition to the Dartmouth chapter, the Harvard Medical School-based organization counts a former member of the Big Green men’s swimming program as a co-founder.

Logan Briggs discovered his 2016 graduation from Dartmouth left a hole in his athletic life that medical school stress could have easily filled. Once settled in at Harvard Med, Briggs connected with three other former college athletes — Mike Seward (Harvard men’s hockey), Derek Soled (Yale fencing) and Chase Marso (Augustana, S.D., football) — to form Docs Who Lift to help send members to races and raise funds for a chosen cause. The group changed its name to Medicine in Motion a year later and gained nonprofit status.

“Once I got into medical school, not being on a team, not being a varsity athlete, I found it really important to continue (staying active),” said Briggs, a Harvard Med third-year who hopes to specialize in urologic surgery. “We found that working out together was the best way to prevent ourselves from burning out in medical school. ...

“Burnout is a huge problem in the medical field; over half of medical school students, residents and physicians are burned out. It’s such a shame, and it leads to not only poor quality of life for those burned out, but it impacts patient care — decreased physician empathy, increased major medical errors, and it’s a huge cost to society.”

Aside from Dartmouth and Harvard, Medicine in Motion has expanded to the medical schools at Boston University, UMass and Tufts as well as Harvard’s School of Dental Medicine. It also counts a chapter at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Lites does his part by hosting a weekly 45-minute Zoom workout Monday evenings. A Columbia University graduate who worked as a personal trainer for two years prior to matriculating at Geisel, Lites sets up his program as a boot camp — multiple exercises for short periods of time, working through a cycle before a brief respite to rest and refuel.

“It’s the most effective way to do something substantial in the shortest amount of time,” said Lites, who is leaning toward orthopedics as a future medical discipline.

Social media efforts have drawn others in Dartmouth’s medical community into his workouts. Lites — a chapter officer with fellow classmates Isabelle Tersio and Zach Panton — sees his Medicine in Motion group offering other ways to reduce medical industry and school stress as he continues his four years at Geisel.

“That’s why it’s so important to have outlets outside of academia,” Lites said. “You can have tunnel vision in school. You can sew up every single hour and minute and second of the day with schoolwork. Is that sustainable? Is it necessary to maintain your mental health? You’ll burn out if school is your only focus.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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