When working up to 80-hour weeks in residency, it’s easy to put personal fitness on the back burner. As a result, weight gain throughout residency training has become an increasingly prevalent problem among physicians in training. In order to prevent this problem from affecting you personally, here are some tips for staying healthy and fit while practicing in your residency program.
1. Always bring your lunch.
When you’re constantly on the move, and a fellow physician offers to go out to eat, that opportunity usually sounds too good to pass up. Unfortunately, that is not the healthy decision to make. Instead, it’s best for you to pack your own food so you can ensure that you eat the healthiest food options possible. A balanced diet is imperative when trying to maintain a healthy weight. Although you may feel deprived when your co-workers are eating pizza in the middle of the night, you will feel vindicated at the end of your training when they have all gained the weight you managed to keep off.
2. Avoid the vending machine--have healthy snacks on hand.
One of the worst decisions you can make while on the job is visiting the vending machine. All of the options found inside will be high in calories and fat--two things that can equate to poor nutrition. When searching for a snack during your long shifts, it’s best to bring some healthy options to have on hand. Things like almonds, strawberries, apples, celery and other assorted fruits and vegetables are excellent alternatives to a fatty snack found in the vending machine. Keeping healthy food options in your reach is helpful to avoid searching for other choices that can contribute to a poor diet.
3. Take the stairs.
Always taking the stairs is an excellent way to keep your body constantly in motion while exerting some physical activity. It seems trivial, but this small activity can contribute tremendously to your body’s overall health. Stair climbing for 10 minutes, three times a day, can establish your 30-minute workout recommended for each day. Finding any unique way to squeeze in some physical activity throughout your busy day will add to your healthy living efforts.
4. Set aside at least 30 minutes each day for exercise.
Even though it can become easy to avoid exercise, given the busy schedule residents have each day, it is necessary to cram in as much physical activity as possible when you get the opportunity. Physicians recommend engaging in aerobic exercise balanced with low to moderate level weight training a few days a week. Take advantage of the days you have off, as well as any day you have the chance to leave early, and utilize that time to squeeze some exercise into your schedule. Physicians who exercise regularly are less likely to miss work due to illness and have reduced levels of stress.
5. Sleep as much as you can.
Getting enough sleep is of paramount importance as a physician in residency. Adequate sleep is vital to ensure that you are both mentally and physically in the best state possible. Whether it’s in a car or on a chair, take a nap anywhere you can to stay well-rested and able to perform at your highest level. It is recommended that physicians try to get on as regular of a sleep schedule as possible to stay healthy. Also, if you have difficulty getting to sleep, avoid heavy caffeine intake to prevent any challenges in getting enough rest. Your patients depend on your personal health to give them the best feasible care.
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