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Tips: How to Sneak In Some Exercise While Evaluating Your Patients

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doctorOur workdays are long, so it’s no surprise when we get home we may not exercise as much as we’d like.  Sure, waking up early to exercise is an option, but that involves waking up early.  The next best solution?  Sneaking in some exercises while evaluating your patients.  Here are some helpful exercises to use next time you evaluate your patient at bedside.

Doorframe pull-ups.

Before you even enter a patient’s room, take advantage of the door frame and work on your finger and upper-body strength by doing as many pull-ups as possible.  If your patient is under contact precautions, be sure to do the pull-ups before you gown up.  Pull ups with latex gloves can be tricky.  And if there’s no door frame to grip?  Improvise.  Use the next sturdiest thing that you can find: the top of an open door (propped so it doesn’t swing) or a ventilator (knees bent).

History jumping jacks.

While you ask your patient about fevers, pain, and bowel movements, do 5 sets of 30 jumping jacks.  If you’re in the zone, do an extra 10 jumping jacks for every additional point the patient describes on the pain scale.  If the pain is 1 out of 10, do 10 extra.  If the pain is a 10, then do 100 more.  Remember: No pain, no gain!  GomerBlog tip: Remove the stethoscope from around your neck to prevent from flinging it dangerously astray or, worse, choking.

Patient-assisted sit-ups.

You help patients out by diagnosing and treating them, so why not have patients help you out by having them hold down your ankles during sit-ups or crunches?  Do as many as you can.  Be sure the spot on the floor is clear of bodily fluids.  If you’re truly motivated, have a target number of sit-ups in mind by the time your patient is discharged.  Important: Don’t forget to document in your progress note or discharge summary how many sit-ups you performed.

Medicine ball tosses.

Patients are more than capable of tossing around a 100-kg medicine ball irrespective of why they’re hospitalized.  Though medicine balls work great on the medical floors, be sure to use surgical balls with the perioperative patient.

Pocket-drop squats.

This is a great exercise if you have a white coat with loads of crap in the pockets.  Drop your pen, perform a squat, and pick up the pen.  As you pick up the pen, something else will fall out of your white coat: return to standing position, perform another squat, and pick up said object.  Objects should fall out of your pockets for at least 20 reps.  Tip for medical students: Since you have the most crap in your white coat pockets, be sure not to overdo it (max 50).

Baby bicep curls.

Find two infants of roughly equal weight and palm their heads, bodies balanced on your forearms.  Perform as many bicep curls as you can, remaining smooth and steady such as to not wake up the little tykes.  Stop either when you tire out or the infants spit up.  Newborn twins are absolutely ideal for this exercise.

ICD-10 bench presses.

After you leave the patient’s bedside and before you spend the next three hours charting, coding, and crying, bench press the heaviest object in the entire hospital: the new ICD-10 manual.  Be smart and have someone spot you.  If the manual falls onto your chest, say goodbye to your rib cage and vital organs.  With proper form and technique, ICD bench presses are one hell of a chest and arms workout.  However, we cannot stress enough: Be careful, you don’t want to be an ICD-10 code.

Don’t forget to hydrate between parts of the history and exam.

It’s easy to cramp up between the social and family histories or cardiovascular and pulmonary exams, so be sure to hydrate frequently.  Eight glasses of water per patient encounter is recommended.  Check your urine frequently while doing your patient write-up; you want that urine to be as clear as possible.  Always remember: Rhabdo is BAD YO!!!

Now go and not only be a good historian, but a good, fit historian!

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