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3 Tips for Physicians to Make More Time for Exercise

Jul 06 2016

Helping others live healthier is what being a physician is all about, but do you make the time for your own regular exercise? Its benefits are well-known, but a typical physician’s days are filled with patient appointments, surgery, meetings, and making time to grab a quick lunch or snack. It’s possible that daily exercise might fall to the bottom of your to-do list.

Don’t let that happen, says Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC, the executive director of the Breathing Space Institute, a firm in Raleigh, N.C., that works with both people and companies to help achieve work-life balance. Davidson, known as “The Work-Life Balance Expert,” has written more than 60 books on the subject. He also originally wrote about this issue in a column for Physicians Practice.

Here are his top three tips for how physicians can find more time to exercise:

1. Just Do It

“The most important thing is to recognize that there is no substitute for exercise,” says Davidson. “The mind-body link has been well established: when you exercise, it improves your mental functioning, and not just your physical function.” 

So if you’re puzzling over a particular work issue, doing something quick in your office, like five to 10 jumping jacks or jogging in place for a half a minute, might help you figure out a new angle or a solution to what you’re thinking about.

2. There Is Always Time

There are ways to fit exercise into your day even your schedule seems jam-packed. “Walk up two flights instead of taking the elevator, and always walk down as far as you possibly can,” says Davidson. For most people, “it’s no big deal to walk down eight flights, if you can do it.”

Always look for opportunities to get your body in motion, he adds. “Park a little farther away in parking lot so you will get an extra minute of walking up and back.”

Once in your office, do things like stretch for your stapler. “Arrange items on your desk so you have to reach for things that could otherwise be closer,” he says. “It sounds like it’s contrary to efficiency, but the benefits to doing so offset it because you reached and stretched."

3. Maximize TV Time

When you come home after a long day’s work, you may feel mentally exhausted, but that can sometimes obscure the fact that you aren’t physically tired, says Davidson.  Consider taking a 20-40 minute walk after you’re home, or do some bicep curls with light hand weights while you decompress in front of the TV, he suggests.

In fact, “most of what you need to maintain fitness levels can fit under one of the big stuffed chairs in your living room,” he says. Having two sets of low level weights, such as 2 and 5 pounds or 5 and 10 pound-weights, a bungee cord, a balance board and a back foam roller, can all fit in one area and should be less than $50 worth of equipment to use while doing different stretches, push-ups and sit-ups.

“You can turn your TV viewing into a highly-beneficial simultaneous exercise time,” he says. “If you are committed to exercising, it is entirely within your grasp.”


Note: The contents of this story are for informational purposes only. The information does not constitute a medical consultation and cannot replace medical advice. Any information should never be used as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other health care provider. Before you start working out, you should get a medical checkup or otherwise be fit for this type of activity. It is important that you warm up and stretch before each workout, and that you use common sense while exercising: do not go over the top when exercising! If you experience any pain, feel weak, dizzy or exhausted or become short of breath, immediately stop your workout."

Cheryl Alkon is a freelance writer and researcher who has covered health, medicine and healthcare extensively. She has written for a variety of publications, including USA Today, The New York Times,, More, Women’s Day, ENT Today, and Oncology Business Management. She is the author of “Balancing Pregnancy With Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.” Find her at

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