It's common knowledge amongst physician's, eating well and exercising is recognized as very important factors in subverting illness and disease and in the maintenance optimal health. But as every locum tenens physician knows making good food choices and finding time for regular workouts while one the road is no easy task. Here are practical tips for locum physicians to stay fit while traveling.
Study your schedule in advance
Exercise is very important, things like taking: brisk walks, joining yoga classes, gym workouts or just finding a place on the floor to spread out; often the first thing to fall off the list when life gets busy. Before you leave for a locum tenens engagement, look at your schedule and write in your calendar times when you can commit to exercising. Suzanne Schlosberg, author of The Ultimate Workout Log and The Ultimate Diet Log says exercising four days a week is ideal, but nothing something is better than doing nothing. "If it's a short-term stay, you don't necessarily have to maintain your usual level of exercise", she notes. "It doesn't take much to maintain your fitness. If you usually exercise five or six days a week, you can stay fit with twice-a-week workouts if you keep up the intensity of your workout." Schlosberg recommends a morning workout if possible because it's easy to tell yourself that you're too tired at the end of the day.
Prepare your own food
On extended hospital shifts or layovers at the airport, having healthy snack alternatives handy helps to avoid the dreaded vending machine, processed meal, option. Schlosberg recommends munching on grapes and baby carrots as a way to steer clear of packaged sweet and salty snacks. Nibbling on your personal stash of healthy food will make you less likely to submit to the temptation of junk "food" alternatives.
The most important meal of the day
Eating a good, fruit and vegetable based preferably, breakfast is an excellent way to start the day. If your hotel offers a complimentary breakfast, bypass the glazed pastries and go for instant oatmeal with a fruit. Making sure to get off to a healthy start and you'll feel better about yourself all day," encourages Schlosberg.
Educate yourself in advance
Look ahead. Discover which restaurants are convenient and do some research. Schlosberg also warns against consuming too many liquid calories. "Some coffee drinks have as many calories as a Big Mac," she says.
Pack your own gym bag
Schlosberg recommends two pieces of exercise equipment that are easy to pack and use on the road. (i.e. a jump rope and stretch tube) "You can get a good total body workout with a stretch tube", says Schlosberg, who also adds that if jumping rope is in your plan, ease into it, as it is more strenuous than you might think or remember. There is always the hotel gym and the pool; that's assuming you like the equipment or know how to swim. And don't overlook those early morning exercise television broadcasts. A half-hour of bending and stretching in your room isn't a bad way to start your day. Or if there is the internet available, turn on your favorite podcast or YouTube workout video.
Every little bit helps
When you are out of your usual exercise routine, taking a few extra steps can help you stay fit and burn calories. Try parking your car in the farthest lot and enjoy a longer walk into the clinic or hospital. Take the stairs rather than the elevator when the option presents itself. Schlosberg is a big fan of the pedometer and recommends 10,000 steps a day.
Visit the gym
Whether you are on a short or long-term assignment, consider buying a temporary pass to a local workout facility. If you're not sure where to go ask around, there are usually plenty of great options available.
Making good nutrition and proper exercise a priority will result in healthier and more enjoyable locum tenens engagements. And don't forget, while it's important to keep the body fit, the mind is also very important; be optimistic, smile, laugh and take as much you time as possible. Even brief little intentional spats are better than nothing. You'll be an excellent role model for all the other staff and for the patients too. Now that's good medicine.
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