Dr. Riva Rahl, a physician, author, and marathon runner, takes a preventive approach at Cooper Clinic.
“Often, we as a society tend to treat things reactively instead of proactively, and then it is far more difficult to try to manage disease and treat it than to prevent in the first place,” she explained.
Recently added to the Cooper Clinic Platinum team, Rahl provides primary care for the concierge medical practice patients while also continuing preventive medicine work pioneered by her mentor and colleague, Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper.
“Preventive medicine focuses on preventing disease and disability, diagnosing early on, and maintaining good health,” she said.
“While physical activity is probably necessary to avoid weight gain – it probably isn’t sufficient: Moderating calorie intake is very important too.”Dr. Riva Rahl
Some patients fly in from around the nation and world for annual exams.
“Many things we recommend in preventive medicine can benefit you in a number of ways (example being: strength training, which helps metabolism, maintains muscle mass, improves balance, lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, strengthens bones, and helps reduce age-related memory loss),” Rahl said. “People benefit from having a physician focused on wellness and prevention because many people aren’t aware of what types of tests and preventive screenings they should have, and what types of behaviors can really benefit your short- and long-term health.”
Long-distance running success got Rahl inducted into the Rice Athletics Hall of Fame, but her triumphs continued beyond college. She has won several marathons, include the Dallas White Rock Marathon (2000) and the Cowtown Marathon (2000, 2002, and 2008).
Q: Which is harder: writing a book, running a marathon, or graduating from medical school?
Dr. Rahl: They all were like marathons in a way. But writing the book was probably the most challenging for me because writing isn’t my strength or passion (but getting the word out about physical activity and health is), so writing the book required a lot of attention to detail, and probably most importantly because I did it by myself. Having others around for med school and training for a marathon certainly makes hard work easier.
Q: I see that your book’s title is Physical Activity and Health Guidelines (Human Kinetics, 2010). What guidelines have you been offering lately for those seeking not to gain COVID-19 pounds during the pandemic?
Dr. Rahl: I try to stick with the guidelines that all Americans should follow: Try to get at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity, more if you can. While physical activity is probably necessary to avoid weight gain – it probably isn’t sufficient: moderating calorie intake is very important too. Finding ways to manage stress other than mindless snacking or stress-eating is important to avoid the COVID “19.”
Q: You’ve served on the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas Board of Directors. What’s your experience with singing, and what’s your favorite song?
Dr. Rahl: I grew up singing in choir (Piedmont Children’s Choir), joined another one in medical school (San Francisco Choral Society), and sing with my church choir in the summer (Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church). I love so many songs but recently listened to an old recording of Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater,” which was fantastic.
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