Five Questions with Dr. Donald Hensrud, Director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program

Dr. Donald Hensrud

The Destination Medical Center (DMC) initiative strives to position Rochester as a global destination for anyone who has a passion for health and wellness, not just those coping with illness and disease. Dr. Donald Hensrud leads the Healthy Living Program within Mayo Clinic’s Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center. With clinical research from Mayo Clinic experts, this comprehensive wellness program enhances mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

We sat down with Dr. Hensrud to learn more about the Healthy Living Program and why he feels making wellness a priority will help us become a stronger community.

DMC: What path brought you to your current position with the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program?

Hensrud: I have always been interested in the prevention of disease through healthy lifestyle habits such as diet and physical activity. It made intuitive sense when I first started out in medicine and, since then, the evidence supporting healthy living has expanded a great deal – and so has the need. I’ve worked in various areas related to healthy living during my career at Mayo Clinic and now I, and our entire staff at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, feel very fortunate that we have a tremendous opportunity to bring the Mayo Clinic model of wellness to patients, caregivers, employees, business leaders, community members – anyone and everyone – to help improve their health and quality of life.

DMC: What are some of your top priorities in your position for 2018?

Hensrud: While people generally know it’s important to be more active, eat better, and manage stress, most don’t appreciate how powerful these lifestyle habits can be, not only to prevent disease but to help us feel better immediately. People also don’t generally appreciate that adopting healthy lifestyle habits can be practical and enjoyable. We want to get this message out to everyone, and how our many programs and services in the Healthy Living Program can help them realize good health and an improved quality of life. Though we continue to double our guests year-over-year, we still have work to do making people aware that this program is here and available to everyone. That is an area where our partnership with DMC can help us. We’d like to play a large role in Rochester being a global destination for medical care – and wellness – and realizing our vision of being America’s city for health. This includes partnering with local leaders to make wellness a bigger priority for individuals, businesses, and the community overall.

DMC: What do you feel sets Rochester apart from other cities?

Hensrud: There are many reasons why Rochester has been named the best city in America on more than one occasion.  The medical care is an obvious differentiating factor, but beyond that, there exists a positive overall outlook to do the right thing on many different levels, and this seems to be in the spirit that is driving DMC. With so many businesses and people in the community connected in one way or another to Mayo Clinic, we have a wonderful opportunity to make this an even better (and healthier!) place to live and visit.

DMC: Why is the Destination Medical Center initiative so important to the future of Rochester?

Hensrud: It seems to me that the DMC initiative is key in focusing different individuals, businesses, and efforts to promote Rochester as a whole. While Mayo Clinic is a primary reason why people come here, the city is what makes their overall experience positive and enjoyable. DMC allows us to be much more strategic and purposeful in building this unique community and culture for the next generation.  A “global destination for medical care, health and wellness” is an aspiration that excites me.

DMC: What advice would you give to someone thinking about building a life, starting a career, or raising a family in America’s City for Health?

Hensrud: Embrace it and dive in! I’ve talked to many people, including myself, who didn’t plan on spending this much of their lives here, but Rochester has a way of growing on you in many ways. The opportunities, including maintaining health and a great quality of life, should only increase in the future as Mayo Clinic and DMC move forward together. We, at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, look forward to being part of this future.

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