Tips for Healthcare Workers Wishing to Hone their Fitness

woman exercising By Lucy Peters

Compared to other professions, staff in some healthcare professions (for instance, nurses) have a six times higher prevalence of back pain. Tasks such as transferring patients and operating in awkward postures can cause lumbar tissue damage and back pain, but this is only one of many health risks associated with the health profession. Employees working in healthcare can also face high rates of stress and tiredness owing to factors such as long working hours, shift work, and working in times of risk (as is the case during the global health crisis). How can physical activity help quell stress and pain and reduce injury and how can healthcare workers ensure they get the recommended number of minutes of exercise per week?

Exercise Reduces Pain and Stress

As stated in a study by Ann-Kathrin Otto and colleagues, published in the journal BMJ, the efficiency of ergonomic training and exercise when it comes to reducing pain, is well-documented. Previous studies have shown that moderate exercises (including cardiovascular and stretching exercises) reduce musculoskeletal problems, boost muscular strength, and enhance cardiovascular fitness among nursing staff. Research published by the Mayo Clinic shows that employees in medical centers report high levels of stress. Of the many natural modes of quelling this stress, just a few found to be particularly effective include general physical activity, mindfulness-based activities such as yoga, and time spent in nature.

Exercise and the Immunity

A 2020 study by researchers at the University of Bath found that regular, daily exercise benefits one’s immunity, even during tough times. It helps the immune system “find and deal with pathogens, slowing down changes that happen to the immune system with aging.” Equally important is diet. Certain foods strengthen the immune system. These include healthy Omega-3 fats, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and probiotic and fermented foods. When you eat is equally important; the gut has a memory and when it is expecting food, it ramps up the activity of immune cells to attack incoming ‘bad bacteria’. Sticking to regular meal times ensures these cells are able to exercise their function.

Exercise at Work

Over 50% of employees report that they have little time to exercise because of their busy work and home lives. As stated in a recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, one solution is to include more activity at work. In one study, ‘treadmill workstations’ – in which employees were made to work while walking, significantly increased fitness levels and BMI measurements. Another study assigned participants a mandatory activity of middle-to-high intensity workouts for around 2.5 hours a week during work hours. These incentives clearly need to be offered and organized by work organizations, but what can you do if your place of work does not adopt programs that boost employee fitness?

Individual Efforts

The key to making the most of the little time you may have is to do as much as you can. Did you know that running for just 15 minutes a day can reduce the risk of major depression by 26%? Official recommended guidelines stipulate that all individuals should complete at least half an hour of moderate intensity exercise every day. The good news is that these 30 minutes do not need to be continuous. That is, you can complete 10 minutes on your way to work, 10 minutes at lunchtime, and 10 minutes at the end of the day. You can also embrace activity in small but significant ways – including taking the stairs instead of the lift when you can. For extra health benefits, engage in vigorous activity (think cycling, jogging, or interval training) for half an hour at least three times a week. Vigorous exercise is particularly effective because it improves the efficiency of your heart and lungs, and more oxygen is delivered to your muscles.

Even if you are very inactive, becoming slightly more active can help you reap big benefits in terms of fitness and pain reduction. At the very least, aiming for around 30 minutes of moderate activity per day can help strengthen your cardiovascular system. So, too, can finding practical ways to be more active – including walking while working when possible, stretching throughout the day, and taking advantage of work breaks to be more active instead of taking a sedentary pause.

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consultant Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

Encouraging Isolated Patients to Spend Time Outdoors

Woman Walking Along Path In Autumn WoodlandWritten By Lucy Peters

The average American is believed to spend nearly 90% of their life indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This equates to being outdoors for a total of one half of one day per week.  Patients who are in isolation due to being immunocompromised or testing positive for a contagious disease may spend even less time outdoors. This can result in increased anxiety, a compromised circadian rhythm, and even an increasingly suppressed immune system. Thankfully, there are a number of ways in which a healthcare professional can help an isolated patient spend time outdoors.

Highlight the benefits of spending time outside

A patient is more likely to make an effort to spend time outside if they are aware of the benefits they may enjoy. There are a number of science-backed benefits that can be highlighted. Spending time outside can reduce cortisol levels which will boost your overall mood according to a Japanese nature therapy study. Spending time outdoors can also help accelerate healing according to the University of Pittsburgh while a Harvard Medical School publication concurs that outdoor time will boost Vitamin D levels significantly. Spending time outdoors can also aid in reducing the mental fatigue that often presents itself during periods of illness.

Suggest simple yet beneficial outdoor activities

Although structured outdoor therapy sessions may yield impressive results, it is not always a viable option. Healthcare professionals are in a good position to suggest simple yet beneficial ways that will increase the time an isolated patient spends outdoors. Going for a walk, even if just around the garden, will yield benefits both associated with being outside as well as physical activity. Patients can also be encouraged to conduct a range of everyday activities, such as reading and catching up on social media, outside. While a deck or porch is ideal places for these, finding a sunny spot near an open window will also suffice.

What if going outdoors isn’t an option?

For some isolated patients, going outside isn’t an option due to a variety of reasons. According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, simply viewing natural settings can boost physiological well-being considerably. These findings can be supported in a number of ways. By encouraging patients to open windows to allow fresh air in, placing indoor plants or cut flowers in the home, or looking out into the garden, they may become privy to benefits typically associated with outdoor time.  Apart from noticing a reduction in anxiety and stress, cognitive function may also be improved.

Spending time outdoors is of pertinent importance to isolated patients. Although different strategies may need to be employed for each, there are many ways these patients can be exposed to the outdoors and reap the subsequent benefits.

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s  Health Care Life Coach Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a health care life coach program

The Role of Diet in Dealing With Anxiety 

Fried fish on green asparagus with salad

Written By Lucy Peters

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults or 18.1 percent of the population every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. While the healthcare industry has various medications and therapies you can use to calm or treat your anxiety, the answer could be hiding in plain sight; your diet. Over the years, nutritionists and doctors have realized that, just like other major body organs, the brain requires certain nutrients to maintain proper function and ward off mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. While there are no magic foods that will cure your anxiety, there are various changes you can make to your daily diet to improve your symptoms and support your road to recovery.

Get your omega-3 fatty acids 

One nutrient that has been proven to be especially effective at reducing anxiety symptoms is omega-3 fatty acids which you can get from fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout as well as walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds. Foods rich in omega-3 provide two essential fatty acids- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) — that are needed to reduce inflammation, regulate neurotransmitters, and promote healthy brain function. For the best results, you can aim to get at two servings of fatty fish every week.

Keep your blood sugar in check 

Over time changes in your blood sugar levels can increase your risk of developing anxiety disorders and other serious health problems. Thankfully, there are various measures you can take to gain better control of blood sugar levels and keep them stable. The easiest way to do this is by eating a well-balanced diet, controlling your food portions, and avoiding skipping meals. Beyond that, you must also be careful about the types of carbs you eat since they are the biggest influencers of blood sugar levels. Try to eat foods rich in complex carbs such as oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, whole-grain bread, and quinoa. This will give your brain a serotonin boost which has a calming effect. Minimize your intake of refined sugar and simple carbs such as white bread, rice, and pasta that may exacerbate your anxiety disorder.

Supplement your diet 

Thanks to the growth of the supplementation industry in the US, there are many supplements available today that allow you to get the nutrients you need directly and in the right amounts. One key supplement that will help you in the battle against anxiety is magnesium. Magnesium is a key mineral that is needed to maintain full body function and is also an important element of managing anxiety episodes. Vitamin D is another essential supplement in managing anxiety since it promotes a feeling of well-being. Other supplements that may help include L-theanine, vitamin B-complex, and melatonin. Before taking any supplements, make sure you consult your doctor and adhere to the recommended daily allowance to be on the safe side.

What you drink matters too 

What you drink is part of your diet, and you must be mindful of it if you want to deal with your anxiety. First of all, you need to stay hydrated with good old fashioned water to prevent dehydration which is known to cause mood problems. Next, try to cut back on your coffee intake. Studies have shown that caffeine can cause symptoms of anxiety such as nervousness and shaking or even induce panic attacks in people with anxiety disorders. On top of that, too much coffee may mess with your sleep which further deteriorates your brain health. If you are itching for a hot beverage, try some chamomile tea which can play a role in anxiety reduction.

While changes to your diet can make a difference to your mood and sense of well-being, they’re not a substitute for the medications or therapies that may be recommended by your psychiatrist. Nutrition will work best as part of a comprehensive anxiety treatment plan that includes counseling, medication, getting regular exercise, improving sleep habits, and increasing social support.

 

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Health Care Life Coach Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

A Lifetime of Medical Checkups Those Certified In Life Coaching Must Know

The article, “Medical Checkups for Life”, by Manny Oliverez states

“It is vital to begin preparing for a long life, and you are never to young to start.”

American Institute Health Care Professionals‘s insight:
An excellent chart for those certified in life coaching to utilize and use with clients.  This chart lists concerns and needed tests for ages between twenty and seventy and male and female.

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