Dr. D. Levi Harrison, an orthopedic surgeon and UC Davis Medical School graduate, visited his alma mater in August to talk to students about the role that fitness plays in medical education.
Harrison, who recently published a book titled "The Art of Fitness: A Journey to Self Enhancement" (Brio Press, $39.95, 232 pages) holds undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and romance languages, and graduate degrees in physics and French in addition to his medical degree. He has a private practice as a hand specialist in Glendale.
Why did you decide to write a fitness book?
It's about letting people know that fitness and exercise are lifestyle choices that we have to make to not only have the aesthetic of looking healthy on the outside, which is the superficial part of fitness. I wrote the book so people can understand that fitness is from the inside out.
What makes your book different from other fitness books?
It's geared toward anyone of any fitness level. The book is about helping people to not only get healthy, but make lifestyle changes. The goals of the book aren't about achieving an aesthetic. The goals are to decrease the rates of diabetes, hyper-tension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cholesterolemia and obesity.
The book is really there to let people know that they shouldn't compare themselves to anybody. The goal is to remind people that your body is yours and that where you are today is a good place.
So if you're overweight, you're underweight, you're not very fit, that's OK. Every day you get to start the journey again.
Where do you think fitness education fits into today's medical school?
I definitely think fitness, health and nutrition should be a greater part of all medical school education.
I think UC Davis is on the forefront of being expansive in that respect, and another great thing is that they actually have a Wellness Program there, which helps the student body understand the basic concepts of fitness, health and well-being.
What made you decide to become a doctor despite having studied so many different things?
I wanted to be a doctor since I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. I was always going to do that, so getting other degrees was done in a purposeful way to strengthen my background in things I want to do in medicine.
Medicine was always the focus, but my degrees in engineering and French were things that I wanted to do so I can travel the world and help with designing medical devices.
Why did you choose orthopedics?
That was a really easy decision.
I'm a sports enthusiast, I love the anatomy and the kinematics and the physiology of the body.
I love the fact that with orthopedics you have the opportunity to make people more functional and pain-free, and help them get back into their lives.
What physical activities do you participate in?
Right now I'm training for the (Los Angeles) marathon, and I've done several other marathons. I'm a real enthusiast with respect to mixed martial arts and skydiving, which is another one of my passions.
Where can people go to purchase the book and learn more about you?
They can get the book at any major bookstore or online at www.theartoffitnessbook.com. They can reach me on Twitter at @drleviharrison.