Be A Better Doctor In Just 5 Minutes A Day. Seriously.


By Jonathan Ford Hughes

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.

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.

• Perform this circuit at your desk: 10 air squats, 10 lunges, 10 toe touches, 10 calf raises. Repeat the circuit for 5 minutes, trying to increase the number of circuits each time you do 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:

• Purchase a foam roller and keep it in your office. When you have a few minutes to spare, use it to roll out stiff tissue or joints. Here’s how to put your foam roller to use.

• 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.

Log more sleep

Countless studies have demonstrated that sleep deprivation has a negative impact on cognitive performance. The stakes for poor performance are obviously a bit higher for doctors. Will getting 5 more minutes of sleep a night make a huge difference in your performance? Likely not. However, making a commitment to a bedtime, and then getting to bed five minutes prior, likely will increase the quality and consistency of your sleep over time.

Practice mindfulness

Here’s an area where a 5-minute time investment can really make a difference. To make a mindfulness practice easier, purchase an app, such as Calm, Headspace or Waking Up. Studies are clear on the benefits: improved anxiety levels, reduction in the stress inflammatory response, and improvement of depression symptoms.


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    • Masthead

    • Editor-in Chief:
    • Theodore Massey
    • Editor:
    • Robert Sokonow
    • Editorial Staff:
    • Musaba Dekau
      Lin Takahashi
      Thomas Levine
      Cynthia Casteneda Avina
      Ronald Harvinger
      Lisa Andonis

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