Physicians are stressed. They work long hours and rapidly become inundated with additional responsibilities and paperwork. Although burnout plagues many physicians, maintaining an active lifestyle is one of the best ways to combat this condition. Unfortunately, with the nature of their work and demanding schedules, physicians may find it challenging to include exercise in a daily (or even weekly) regimen.
According to the 2019 Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report, about a third of sampled physicians reported exercising only once a week or not at all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that for substantial health benefits, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week, or an equivalent combination of the two. Read on to discover three ways busy clinicians like you can improve health and productivity, setting an example for patients to implement and sustain a healthy lifestyle. And, most importantly, ensure that your own well-being becomes a priority.
Discover your motivation
Whether you hope to run a marathon, improve your triglycerides, or drop a pant size, find a goal to keep you on track and work hard to achieve it. Write it down and tell family members or friends so you have an extra level of accountability. It may help to find inspirational quotes or develop a “mantra” to keep your focus. These sayings can be taped to a spot you see every day, like a mirror, so you read them as you get ready to begin your day. If your motivation begins to waver, those words could be just what you need to get back on track!
Choose activities that suit your lifestyle
If you hate running, then don’t force yourself to cram in a mile here and there. Instead, find a sport or hobby that gets you active. But more importantly, find something in which you look forward to participating. You are far more likely to find the time to incorporate an activity you enjoy instead of something that feels like a chore. You don’t have to trick yourself into enjoying exercise. For example, if you’ve always loved playing tennis, join a league and attend practices rather than dragging yourself to the gym and going through the motions three days a week!
Make it social
Find an exercise partner, perhaps another physician or a friend, who enjoys the same activities and can work around your hours. By involving someone else in your journey, you can instantly double the enthusiasm. Create a pact: if either of you loses motivation, the other person agrees to help regain your focus. You also could integrate a little healthy competition, if both parties agree. You are far less likely to bail on someone else than on yourself, so use that incentive to your advantage!