By: Dr. Juli Goldstein
Anyone in the veterinary field knows that we are master multitaskers. We wear ALL the hats – from caseworker to record writer to family caretaker to virtual teacher, veterinarians change wardrobes faster and more efficiently than many.
Yet it somehow never seems like enough.
One of the first things we delete from our lives is lunch or dinner (or both). Forget about exercising or going to the gym. And, no, coffee and leftover donuts brought by a client do not qualify as a balanced meal. And sleep, what is that?
Self-care is a vital component to ensure a high quality of life. We teach clients and friends that the most important aspect for our patients is their overall quality of life, yet we struggle to lead by example.
So how do I regain control over my own life?
There is hope! You, too, can become a walking – or running – veterinarian or nurse and still have time to care for patients, your family, and most importantly, yourself. If you are the type of person who previously only ran when chased, then this is the program for you.
The idea of becoming a runner or walker can be intimidating, especially for overachievers who feel that they must be the best and most successful at everything they take on. However, the greatest triumph is having the courage to take the first step and prioritize your fitness. Still not convinced? Let’s delve into some science.
Here are five reasons to lace up and head out the door or hit the treadmill:
#1: Running is a mood booster.
Legally Blonde fans will agree, in the words of Elle Woods, “Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make people happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands… they just don’t.” Whether it is a bad Yelp review, too many cases, or no lunch break, there are multiple reasons needed for a mood boost when working in the veterinary field. Research has shown that exercise can instantly improve your mood. Whether you are an early riser or a night owl, taking the time to move, exercise, or run is a great way to wash away the day or start off on the right foot. Incorporating running into your daily routine will take back soul-sucking, stress inducing, exhausting aspects of your job, and it will ensure that your husband, wife, or partner is safe from your wrath. So, grab some ear pods, crank up your favorite tunes, and run it out.
#2: Running is a natural antidepressant.
Research has found that just 20 minutes of running or activity a day can help stave off depression. It is no secret that depression in the veterinary profession is an epidemic. While it should never be a substitute for professional care or medication, running can be a wonderful addition to fight the depression monster when it rears its ugly head. Convince a work buddy to join you while you get fit and fight depression together. As we work to normalize mental health in our society, having a running therapy session with a friend is a great way to care for your brain and body.
#3: Running prepares you to cope with daily stress and anxiety.
We all have stress – daily stress, hourly stress, and sometimes on tough days, continuous stress. Research shows that running can reduce frontal cortex activity, leading to a safe and healthy way to de-stress and calm anxiety. Short on time? Try taking a lunchtime run around the clinic, or around the block to refresh your mind and tackle the afternoon cases with confidence.
#4: Running will boost your metabolism.
Forget the magic pills promising to boost your metabolism while you eat what you want. Building up to 45 minutes of activity daily can set your metabolism on fire for up to 14 hours after said activity. Although you cannot out-exercise a bad diet, exercise combined with good nutrition will turn you into a fat-burning, veterinary machine.
#5: Running will boost your energy levels.
Although it sounds like a contradiction of the worst kind, running boosts your energy level. If fatigue and exhaustion are your norm, try adding in some running. It sounds
contraindicated to lace up and work out when you are drained, but getting the blood pumping and the legs moving will give you a natural boost equal to, or more powerful than, your morning coffee.
Now that you are armed with some running knowledge and the desire to take back your fitness, all you have left to do is take the first step. The hardest part of starting any exercise or running program is convincing yourself to begin. A wise runner once said, “Running is 90% mental, and the other 10% is in your head.” Once you make a commitment to yourself, the rest is relatively easy.
Still think you can’t do it?
Follow these steps for getting started and staying motivated:
1. Buy a new running or workout outfit to celebrate the start of a new healthy habit.
2. Choose an accountability buddy. Even if you cannot meet safely in person, text or call your buddy after you complete your daily running goal to keep each other on track.
3. Use your social media family to keep you accountable. Don’t they say it is not real until it’s Facebook or Instagram official?
4. Set daily/weekly/monthly goals.
5. Short on time? Break up your daily goal into pieces during the day. Take your lunch hour (or even a lunch half-hour or 15 minutes) to get outside for a brisk walk or run. It will energize you and refresh your body and brain to tackle the afternoon appointments.
6. Sign up for a race.
Speaking of races…
You didn’t think we would get you this far and not give you a training program, did you? Below is the official Relief Rover Clinic to 5K Training program. This program is designed to take even the most novice runner and ensure successful completion of a 5K (3.1 mile) distance. Test out your new running/power-walking skills and while supporting mental health in the veterinary profession by signing up for the Relief Rover Clinic to 5K Virtual Event. Go to runvetrun.com to learn more and register for the event. Early bird price is $25 through May 31st then $35 from June 1 – July 15th. $10 per runner goes to support Not One More Vet!
Send your running questions to [email protected], and we may post them in an upcoming article. Taking it to social? Tag @reliefrover and @itsdrjuli with the hashtag #runvetrun, #irunfornomv, and #reliefrover5k and show us your running views.
Click the link below for the official Clinic to 5K Beginner Training Program. Use the QR code at the bottom of the training schedule to go to the race website for more information and to register.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-018-9976-0 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938407002016 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21311363/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18277063/