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Healthy You

Caregiver and Competitor: Dr. Joseph Alleva Sets a Fitness Example for His Patients

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 2:59 PM

Joseph Alleva, MD, Division Head of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, walks the walk: he encourages his patients to keep active and sets an example by staying active himself. Dr. Alleva trains in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, competing annually in senior division (over 45) championship. By varying his work out and pushing himself physically, Dr. Alleva prevents overuse injury, manages stress levels and maintains his fitness level.

Here, Dr. Alleva tells us what inspired him to get involved in the world of MMA and how he has overcome his own injuries to continue to compete in the sport he loves:

As a doctor, you encourage your patients to stay fit. How do you keep yourself fit and healthy?
I train in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu , both of these disciplines are critical in MMA (mixed martial arts). In the gyms I train in, there are MMA fighters both professional and amateur; therefore, when they want to hone their skills with regard to these disciplines they will train with us. 

How long have you been involved in these sports? What first piqued your interest in/passion for martial arts?
I have been involved in this sport since my early teens. My older brother was a golden glove boxing champion. I was inspired by him and also was his training partner. 

You’ve competed at the senior level world championship in Judo. What steps have you taken to continue competing at such a high level?
I try to qualify for the senior championships in judo and or Brazilian jiu-jitsu annually, so I train in these disciplines through the year and cross train—swim, weight train, bike, run—to avoid overuse injury, control my weight and remain conditioned. I train daily and there are days when I get in a second session of training.

Have you had to overcome any injuries?  How have you prevented further injury?
Ironically, I contend with neck and lower back problems on and off. I can sympathize with my patients who have experienced pain that has prevented them from doing the things in their lives that they enjoy. 

Dr Hudgins (also part of our spine center) has managed my diagnostic tests, treatment and rehabilitation. With his supervision I have been able to maintain my competitive spirit.

What does competing mean to you?
Staying active has long been established as having many health benefits—cholesterol control, diabetes control, pain control, heart health, weight maintenance and more. But, beyond this it helps me manage my stress and by setting goals and varying my activities it makes it a fun activity. That's the key to maintaining an active lifestyle. Exercise never feels like a burden.