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    Practice What You Preach: 7 Easy Ways Physicians Can Improve Their Health

    Parents are notorious for using the expression, “Do as I say, not as I do.” And while we know actions speak louder than words, many physicians continue to counsel patients to implement healthy lifestyle changes they haven’t made themselves. After all, a physician’s busy lifestyle is not exactly conducive to eating right and staying fit. A 2014 AMA study showed most physicians work 40–60 hours a week, with 23% working more—some up to 80 hours. How do you find time to stay healthy? Here are 7 tips:

    1. Fit in a lunch-hour workout. With a little planning, you can eat lunch and work out in a 60-minute window. According to Phil Tyne, director of the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center, the key to a quickie workout is intensity, pushing your muscles to a “temporary fatigue.” You’ll need to brown-bag your lunch and eat it after, not before your workout—but don’t skip lunch! A healthy breakfast and high-protein late morning snack will frontload additional fuel to keep you going.
    2. Stretch at your desk. Chained to your desk? You can still stretch! Maintaining flexibility will help prevent body aches, relieve pressure, and improve circulation.
    3. Walk more. If you can’t get out for a 30-minute walk, a few 10-minute sessions or even extra steps in your daily routine add up. Professor Tim Bungum, a researcher in physical activity behavior, recommends parking farther away and taking the stairs more often. Try having walking meetings. Wear a fitness tracker, and “consider purchasing a treadmill desk.”
    4. Stand more. According to Mayo Clinic, sitting too much puts you at risk for a number of health concerns. But there are ways to stand more at the office, even if you don’t have a standing desk. Walk a few feet to meet with your coworker in person, for instance, instead of sending an email or message. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you stand or move at least every 20 minutes.
    5. Go outside. MedStudy speaker and sports cardiologist John P. Higgins, MD recommends that you “physically leave the office for breaks. Get outside, walk, soak in some sun, and stretch. Getting away from devices and computers can be a great recharger and relaxer while keeping you active.”
    6. Drink water. As a physician, you already know the health benefits of drinking water. But are you doing it? If you can’t stand water, choose a healthy beverage you’ll actually drink, and always keep a bottle handy in your car and at your desk.
    7. Eat more plant-based foods. According to nutrition policy wonk Agustina Saenz, MD, fiber makes you “feel full with fewer calories,” and “helps lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation.”

    Staying healthy has obvious rewards, but if your own health is not enough to motivate you, think of your patients: Physicians who improve their own physical health are more effective in motivating healthy change in their patients. You’ll be more confident and more authoritative on healthy lifestyles when you practice what you preach.




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