As a trained medical expert, you likely see right through all of the self-transformation hype. You know you won’t get six-pack abs, increase productivity or double your salary in just 5 minutes a day. But in areas where you’re really struggling, sometimes 5 minutes is all you need to start building momentum to make meaningful change.
A recent Harvard Health Letter extolls 5-minute fixes for better health. Here’s how physicians can use a similar incremental approach in their own lives, allowing healthier habits to take root and flourish.
How many times a day do you tell patients that they need to exercise? And, how good are you at following your own advice? If you’re like most time-starved doctors, your answer is likely not that good. While you can’t overcome years of inactivity with 5 minutes of effort a day, 5 minutes are better than 0 minutes. And once you see how easy it is to consistently get in 5 minutes of activity, you’ll likely begin to increase the amount of time.
Here are some 5-minute exercise ideas:
• Find the nearest flight of stairs and spend the time climbing it.
• A brisk walk around your hospital or office.
• This basic yoga sequence, called a sun salutation.
• Do sets of 5 push-ups, resting as needed. You can switch to the kneeling variety as you tire. Repeat sets of 5 push-ups for 5 minutes.
Increase mobility and balance
As a physician, the truth of the phrase use it or lose it probably stares you in the face daily. All you have to do is look at the shuffling gait of a geriatric patient to see it. With decreased mobility and balance comes an increased risk of fall-related death or injury. Spending 5 minutes daily moving a few joints through their full range of motion is an effective way to slow age-related decline.
Use some of these 5-minute fixes:
• While watching TV, spend a few minutes doing the couch stretch, named because you can do it on your couch. This hip-opener is a great option for increasing hip mobility.
• Spend 5 minutes alternating between cat and cow poses to fight off a hunched thoracic spine.
• Challenge your balance by standing on one leg for a few minutes, then switching. Stand close to something, such as a chair or wall, that you can use for balance if you begin to wobble.
• Swap out your office chair with a balance ball chair to increase core stability.