What do we picture radiologists doing all day? Unfortunately, the stereotype is that radiologists are sitters; we are on a comfy chair near a diagnostic workstation, powering through loads of studies. There’s some truth to that. In fact, I can almost guarantee that you will gain that freshman fifteen pounds during your first year of residency if you follow the typical work schedule without modifying your behavior. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are ways to circumvent the habit of sitting down for long periods of time, even as a radiologist.
And, since residents are early in their career, it is easier to start forming habits that will potentially last a lifetime. So, here are some suggestions to conquer the ills of long-term sitting, whether you are a radiology resident at work or at home.
1. Stand Up
Many desks these days allow you to complete your work while standing. In fact, we have several workstations dedicated to the standing radiologist in our own department, although unfortunately not enough.
But, let’s say that this option is not available. What can you do to remind yourself to get up? I recommend either a watch timer or an Apple Watch. Regularly, I get messages on my watch to tell me to stand up. It can be occasionally annoying, but it usually does the trick even though there are times I am unable to get out of my seat.
Additionally, little things help. Instead of texting your colleagues, consider getting up and having a conversation with someone. Instead of calling the technologist to complete a study, get up and tell them. These are ways you establish connections with people and lessen the amount of time you are sitting during the day.
2. Get the most calorie burn out of your workspace
Whenever I am at work, I always think about ways to maximize my body’s workload. Think about calorie-burning activities like banning the word elevator from your vocabulary. In fact, the only time I take the elevator is when there is a “wet paint” sign on the stairs. Using the stairs is a great way to burn those extra calories
Take a long way around to get to your next meeting or conference, whether it means going outside or visiting your colleagues. Just remember to leave your workstation a little bit earlier!
3. Get that heart rate up- find a new activity you can stick with!
Any activity that doesn’t interest or excite me, I find difficult to stick with. And, I think it is easy to extrapolate the same to others. So, find something that increases your heart rate, but most importantly find an exercise routine that you enjoy. And, it is crucial to do so. Remember, radiologists sit down more than most other professions and you certainly don’t want to add home sitting time to your total.
For instance, I started running several years ago and have continued diligently only because I look forward to the run. Why? It’s very simple. I have my iPad set up to watch Netflix and HBOGO shows that I find hard to watch without interruptions by just sitting down. Some of the series that I have gone through include Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, House of Cards, and Mad Men, among many others. So, I really look forward to my time on the treadmill.
Also, you may want to find activities that intrinsically interest you because you are learning something new, whether it be physical, mental, or practical. I have recently taken up Tae Kwon Do and have found it to be a great way to build up my stamina, flexibility, and coordination. Each lesson I take, I find that I am learning new things and want to come back for the next time. Some of that enjoyment certainly stems from the great instruction I receive locally from Ko’s Tae Kwon Do with Grand Master Ko.
Get Up And Move It!
Getting out there and moving is especially important as a radiologist because of the increased sedentary lifestyle and the years that you can potentially lose due it’s health consequences. So, make a concerted effort to get up and move!!!