Did you ever think your patients could benefit from you following the same advice you offer them?
Exercise and a healthy diet are only the tip of the wellness iceberg but, as a physician or advanced practice provider, you know these small decisions add up to a big difference. When you reflect on your own habits, ask yourself if you’re taking proper steps to be your best self - both physically and mentally.
Here are some reminders of how your diet and physical activity can directly impact your performance as a health care professional:
Increased energy and alertness
As you make rounds, visit with patients and go about your duties, the extra energy boost resulting from exercise can make a big difference - both internally and externally. Internally, as working out increases blood flow to the brain, you’ll be more alert and productive; externally, a positive, sharper attitude will be evident to you, your peers and, most importantly, your patients.
As a provider, you know what you put in your body has an impact on how much energy you have during the day. However, with a busy schedule, it may feel challenging to plan healthy, balanced meals. If it’s an option for you, consider a meal kit service that may make them easier to prepare at the end of a long day or between shifts.
Regardless, aim to fill your plate with foods to fuel you for the work you need to accomplish. Power bars and energy drinks are convenient for an immediate jolt, but it’s easy to forget they often lead to a harder crash later.
If you’ve experienced burnout before, you know it goes beyond stress and can manifest as symptoms of anxiety and depression. Luckily, exercise not only reduces baseline stress, but it also improves one’s overall mood and helps lessen these mental health symptoms.
While releasing endorphins, exercise also allows the body to imitate effects of stress, such as fight or flight responses. According to Mayo Clinic, this helps your body and its systems practice and work together through those effects so you can more easily cope later. With the fast-paced and often intense work you’re a part of, this could be a valuable benefit to consider.
Better physical functioning
Finding the time to exercise within your busy schedule may seem like a stretch, especially if you’re working long hours that leave you exhausted and ready to rest in order to recharge. But if your agenda will allow, adding some planned physical activity can be quite the difference maker - even if it’s just 10 minutes a day.
Aside from the obvious advantages of improving cardiovascular, digestive and immune system health, exercise and a balanced diet can also lead to a better night’s sleep. More productive sleep means improved overall functioning and feeling more rested and prepared to take on the day’s responsibilities.
Here are some additional ways to incorporate more physical activity into your busy lifestyle:
- Yoga is a great form of exercise and meditation, which can act as a major stress-reliever. You can find many good introductory guides on YouTube, but here’s one you might start with: 10 minute Moring Yoga for Beginners.
- Exercise doesn’t always have to feel like exercise. If it’s a nice day, take a stroll outside your facility during your break or plan a hike or walk through the park during off-hours to get moving.
- Try downloading a free fitness app for workouts that fit any schedule. Some include:
- J&J Official 7 Minute Workout
- Nike Training Club
Exercise has a direct impact on boosting mental health, but there’s also a mental exercise which shouldn’t be underestimated.
Meditation practices can be powerful for easing symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia, yet their effects are not limited to mental health benefits alone. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditating can also help relieve pain, provide relief for symptoms of high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome and other conditions. Ultimately, these physical benefits cycle back into the positive and focused mindset you wish to maintain.