Exercise is your job

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

I didn't go to the gym this morning because I had to write this blog about the importance of exercise in the long-term care workplace. Ironic, isn't it?  Also, sad!

By accepting the false premise that I'm far too busy to work out today, I made a clearly misguided and self-defeating choice. Exercise reduces stress and improves things like concentration, memory, learning and creativity, so I could almost certainly have written this piece quicker and better after 30 minutes on my favorite aerobic torture device. Maybe if my mental acuity hadn't been dulled by so many years of infrequent exercise, I could have reached that healthier conclusion far sooner.

Seriously, folks, this is a no-brainer. Studies aplenty show that our minds simply work better and our performance improves with physical activity, and from home equipment to gym memberships, there are all kinds of ways to begin. Personally, I'm thinking of joining that trendy Orangetheory program down the street. It sounds perfect, as purely theoretical exercise is a concept I can passionately embrace.

With the benefits of exercise so clear, the Harvard Business Journal urges us not to perceive it as a luxury, something to squeeze in if only we had more time, but as a critical part of our job. And I would add that our various long-term care employers, from facilities to corporate offices, should be figuring out how to aggressively encourage it, even during the work day.

In a Business Insider article headlined “Why it's time we paid employees to exercise at work,” the author cites a study documenting work performance boosts of 15% from 30 to 60 minutes of exercise at lunch. On days they exercised, 60% of employees reported better time management, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines. Not to mention that people who exercised tended to not call in sick as much.

It may not be realistic to turn your facility break room into a yoga studio, or retrofit med carts with pedals. But flexible scheduling would be a start — giving staff permission to find some time within the normal work day to do something physically active. From all the obvious personal health benefits, to becoming a smarter, calmer, better functioning team and a more successful business, it would be a clear win for all concerned.

And now, since it appears that just thinking about exercise made me write at a more furious pace, I actually have a little extra time this morning. Maybe I'll go to the gym after all.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since he began writing for the profession at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.


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Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Portland, OR. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.