From 1961-1964, professor Arthur Leon was assigned as a Cardiology Consultant through the United States Medical Corps for US Armed Forces in France and Chief of Medicine at 34th General Hospital in Orléans, France.
During this same time, President Kennedy challenged America’s fitness, including the armed forces, to complete a 50-mile hike in 10 hours at various points across the US. Dr. Leon worked to organize a similar trek in France. However, Dr. Leon simply said, “50 miles from Orléans was the middle of nowhere,” so he added another 20 miles on to the hike to reach Paris. Many of his fellow medical officers discouraged him doubting his completion of the daunting task to which he responded, “I am a runner – I’ll make it” and subsequently placed bets against the skepticism. Finishing the first 50 miles in 10 hours and the next 20 miles in 14 hours, Dr. Leon returned to Orléans experiencing great difficulty walking along with several other pains to dutifully collect his well-earned monies.
Currently, Dr. Leon’s research is focused on heart disease and the effects of exercise on cardiovascular health. To date, he has his name on over 300 publications and about the same amount quick quips. For example, Dr. Leon discussed recent research concluding that an appropriate amount of and type of “exercise…definitely reverses some of the aging of the brain” and “of course, the heart; there’s no better medicine for the heart than exercise.” However, as a word of caution, Dr. Leon quoted his friends at the Mayo Clinic: “Run for your life, but not too far and not too fast.”