Time off, Days off, and Vacations

As my vacation is winding down I’m struck again by how restorative time away from work can be, and how much we all need these breaks.

The word vacation has the same roots as vacate (from Latin vacātiō – freedom, from vacāre – to be empty).  Vacations – whether daily, weekly or annual are effective only if you really walk away from work.    It’s particularly hard to disconnect from email, the internet and texting … but “needing” to stay connected electronically may keep you from connecting with your surroundings and your loved ones. If the idea of emails piling up adds to your stress, compromise by scanning, deleting (and not answering) your emails when you are on vacation.

There’s a tendency to think that vacations have to be a planned trip away for at least a week… but here’s another perspective from WebMD.com:  “While it is ideal to have a full week or two off from work, it may not always be feasible, and there’s still the rest of the year to deal with. Weekend getaways are also good for rejuvenation. So is an hour to yourself during lunchtime or a few hours on weeknights.”

Some ideas….

Plan a half-hour or hour (on days you can) to disconnect and “vacate” from your work in whatever way makes you happy.

Try to really have a full day off every week (call schedule permitting). There’s a reason most religions in the world build in a day away from work – it’s part of the rhythm of rest we need as human beings.

Plan a long weekend away (or even a day) by yourself or with loved ones every couple of months.  Make it time free of electronics – go hiking, sit on a beach, stay at a great bed and breakfast, eat great food.

If you have vacation days you are storing up – start using them!  And, when you take those days off work, don’t use them to “catch up” on chores or other tasks…take the time you need to recharge your batteries.

Why we need vacations from treecitytimes.com

The Science Behind Vacations: Why we Need a Break from lbtimes.com

Why Summer Vacations (and goofing around on the Internet) Make You More Productive from TheAtlantic.com

Cardio Workouts That Aren’t Boring

To maintain your fitness (and to be able to eat without gaining weight) it’s best to shoot for a minimum of 3-4 cardio workouts a week.  To be effective, the workouts should be 30 minutes or longer.  But – consistency is more important than intensity.  If all you have is 10 minutes, then do one of these 10 minute workouts or go for a fast 10 minute walk in the hospital.  If you can do three separate 10 minute workouts in a day, it is just as effective (at least for maintenance of fitness) as a 30 minute session.

Some people have incredible discipline about this (and the rest of us hate them.)  For mere mortals who basically have to really work at this, you have to have a different strategy….

The first thing you have to do is choose what kind of cardio you want to do.  The trick here is feeling like you are playing, not working.  Dancing counts… so does jumping rope. You have to look for fun ways to exercise

American College of Sports Medicine exercise guidelines for healthy adults

www.life123.com Examples of aerobic exercise

www.60in3.com cardio options

www.livestrong.com list of cardio exercises

For many people, music is the difference between feeling like you are playing during a workout vs. working.  Use music to create your own “Fartlek” workout.  Fartlek workouts are also called “speed play” – the idea is to incorporate random intervals of speed work into your workout so you don’t just plod along at the same rate.  One way to do this is to put your music on a random shuffle, or find a good (and free) music source that you can stream.  Change your speed and intensity based on the song, or part of the song you are listening to.  If the song is slow, decrease your speed (but increase the resistance if you are on a machine).  If the song is fast, move with it – increase your effort (e.g sprint if you are running) to keep in time with the music.

Have fun!  Go out and play!

Internet music sites:

  • http://www.pandora.com– internet radio that lets you design your own radio stations or choose from a large selection
  • http://www.folkalley.com– singer songwriters, irish music, bluegrass, etc
  • I’m sure there are a lot of other sites… if you have any that you use, comment below or email me.

Information on Fartlek workouts

Fun Ways to Exercise

This list is taken from a site I came across a while ago. http://zenhabits.net/2009/12/48-fun-exercises/    The work we do as medical students, residents  or practicing docs is hard.  Adding more “work” is not the answer. Put another way, sometimes “going to work out” becomes one more thing on the day’s scut list.  A far better approach is to look for fun ways to add activity to the day.  Go outside and play!

  • Aerobics
  • Ballet
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Bowling
  • Boxing
  • Canoeing
  • Dance Revolution
  • Dancing
  • Double Dutch
  • Field Hockey
  • Football
  • Frisbee
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Hiking
  • Hockey
  • Hopscotch
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hula hooping
  • Ice Skating
  • Jogging
  • Juggling
  • Jump rope
  • Laser tag
  • Paintball
  • Ping-Pong
  • Playing catch
  • Rock Climbing
  • Roller Blading
  • Roller Skating
  • Running
  • Skateboarding
  • Skiing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Tae Kwon Do
  • Tennis
  • Trampoline
  • Treadmill
  • Unicycling
  • Volleyball
  • Walking
  • Weightlifting
  • Wii sports games