Running is a fun sport which is meant to relieve stress and running a hospital is considered by management administrators to be one of the most complex, difficult and stress filled jobs known today.
Recently, at a Jerry Chang ‘fun-raiser’, I had the pleasure of sitting next to and speaking with the Regional Chief Executive Officer of Hawaii-Health System in the East Hawaii Region, Mr. Howard Ainsley.
Ainsley, who is originally from Norfolk, Virginia moved to Hilo 22 months ago to assume his new job at the Hilo Medical Center.
“My wonderful job brought me to beautiful Hilo and I love being here,” he said.
There are many things interesting about this 56 year old, but what really got my attention is his love for sports and his ability to overcome stress by staying healthy and fit.
“I first became interested in sports during primary school,” Ainsley said. “My brother-in-law was a college basketball star/coach and he was my mentor.”
Growing up Ainsley became interested in playing both basketball and tennis and in high school he even joined the track team.
“I received a full basketball scholarship to Western Carolina University (1972-76) where I also participated in volleyball, golf and fencing,” he said.
Following college Ainsley became a high school teacher and coach at Norfolk Collegiate School for three years before spending another three years as a teacher/coach at Washington and Lee University.
Needless to say that Ainsley has set his health and fitness needs as a top priority and despite his enormously busy schedule finds the time to work out.
“The healthcare industry has essentials that are certainly focused on business acumen – finance, statistics, economy and people skills,” he said. “Success hinges on many things, but first and foremost we are there for the patients and striving for high quality care is essential. In healthcare you need competent, caring people, from the nursing staff to physicians to computer specialists.”
And how does this CEO find the time to exercise?
“I believe that finding balance is key and also should factor work-outs just as one would commit to their lunchtime or dinnertime,” he said.
Nearly each and every day Ainsley will find the time to get out and work out.
“My workouts these days generally include 1 to 2 days per week of tennis,” he said. “I’ll cycle 5 to 10 miles 1 to 2 times per week and swimming laps 1 to 2 times per week.”
Ten years ago Ainsley participated in mini-triathlons which included a half mile swim, 26 mile bike ride and a 6.2 mile run, but ankle and knee issues along with job demands have limited his participation in those competitive activities.
“Fitness is important to me because it keeps me healthy and well,” he said. “Literature and research indicates that longevity is related to keeping weight down, keeping stress low and the mind engaged and challenged.”
Ainsley will also take the added precaution of washing his hands regularly to avoid germs, colds and inflammation.
“My overall philosophy is generally, everything in moderation,” he said. “Furthermore, I believe that exercise and eating well are critical to overall health and general wellness.”
Ainsley will watch what he eats as he tries to consume a low fat diet, following often along the Mediterranean diet guidelines.
“I drink alcohol in moderation and will have an occasional glass of champagne or wine,” he said.
As for future fitness related goals Ainsley keeps everything simple.
“My fitness goals these days are to keep my weight in check, to remain stress free, to build core strength and to gain more stamina,” he said.
A typical workday for this busy CEO will often exceed 10 hours, but finding the time for his workouts remain as an important commitment in his life.
Finding that balance between being a good administrator and taking good care of his body and mind are both important components in Ainsley’s life.
“Whether you are building a house, or you’re putting together a symphony, or you’re the LA Lakers, you are only as good as the people around you. Hilo Medical Center has good people and we are building our skills for tomorrow,” Ainsley said.
Office work and the stress of the job will always be there for Ainsley and that is why he has made his personal health, fitness and well being a priority in his life.
It is reassuring to know that people in the health care industry such as Howard Ainsley actually practice what they preach in health care prevention.
We are fortunate to have Howard Ainsley and people like him in our island community.
Rapidly approaching is the deadline to save 50 percent on your entry into the 14th Annual Big Island International Marathon, to be held on March 20, 2011. Participants who mail their entries in on or before the Nov 1 deadline can take half off the price to enter any of the three races hosted by the BIIM. For more information go to www.hilomarathon.org or call 969-7400.
And someday should you happen to see a happy jogger passing through the back streets of East Hawaii remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”