The Rivals Challenge: Q and A with Dean Donna Fry

To help Rivals Challenge participants keep moving and logging their minutes, we've asked leaders from across U-M how they stay motivated and why they want to beat Ohio State!

Donna Fry, Dean, School of Health Professions & Studies, UM-Flint

“What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.”  – Ralph Marston

Q: What do you do to stay healthy?

Text Box: “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.”<br />
 – Ralph Marston</p>
<p>A: I exercise about six days a week – walking, riding my stationary bike, Tai Chi, and racquetball.

Q: What is your motivation for staying active? 

A: I have rheumatoid arthritis and I know that if I am not continuously active, that my joints feel worse.

Also, I feel that we all lead by example.  I am the Dean of the School of Health Professions and Studies on the Flint campus and was a Physical Therapy faculty member before that. I strongly believe that part of being a leader in health care education means that I need to practice what I preach and that means trying to live a healthy life style.  I don’t do it perfectly, but I give it my best shot.

Some of my exercise is for social reasons.  I walk with the retired women in my neighborhood some mornings each week – it is just a way to keep connected and they are such vibrant souls!  They keep me young!

When I ride my stationary bike, I use the time to allow my mind wander.  I look out the window to the yard and simply let my mind wander to sort out issues I am struggling with at work or in my personal life. I find that with no external distractions and the blood flowing in my system from the cardio workout that I can think very freely and creatively.

Q: What words of encouragement do you have for other participants in The Rivals Challenge?

A: With anything, start small and gradually add to your physical activity.  I am reasonably fit and yet when I started using a stationary bike, I could only do 10 minutes at a time.  I now do 30 minutes without any knee pain and love the cardio effect.

Also, find a way to exercise or increase activity that is enjoyable.  If it is just a task to complete, you won’t continue it.

Q: Tell us of a time when you had to overcome an obstacle that might inspire or encourage others.

A: At the age of 25 I was advised by my physician to stop practicing physical therapy because my back would not be able to sustain this line of work.  So I began swimming regularly to be able to stay fit.  Then at the age of 35 I could not walk more than a mile due to arthritic problems in my knees and I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis shortly thereafter.  With the help of medication and regular exercise I am highly active and productive at the age of 56.  I walked the 10 mile Crim Race for the past few years, play racquetball twice a week, kayak in the summers, and enjoy life relatively pain free.  Without regular exercise, this would not be possible.

Q: Why are rivalries important?

I think that everyone is a bit competitive in some way.  Rivalries that encourage healthy behavior give us more motivation to get healthy!

Q: Why do you want to beat Ohio State?

A: I am the Dean of the School of Health Professions and Studies on the UM-Flint campus and the Ohio State Dean of the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences has been a friend of mine for many years. We always tease each other when we meet up at professional meetings. 

Learn more about the Rivals Challenge.

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