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Raising the Bar in Rehab

I'm Sedentary

Published April 12, 2012 2:39 PM by Lisa Mueller

As you well know by now, I am officially an outpatient physical therapist. I previously worked in acute care, and wrote a blog a while back about how much I walked on a daily basis. It was almost five miles on a typical acute day. As I mentioned in that blog, walking around the hospital, to various patient's rooms, to the therapy department for lunch... it all added up. I never stopped moving. Additionally, I was lifting patients throughout the day with transfers, gait training and bed mobility. It was a physically demanding job.

Fast-forward to today. Outpatient physical therapy is a different world. The clinic I work at is about 50 feet long by 20 feet wide, a fairly small space compared to other facilities I've seen. There are three private treatment rooms and plenty of equipment for patients to use, including a treadmill, traditional bike and an arm/leg combo bike. I don't do nearly as much walking as I had been, nor as much heavy lifting.

Now, I am tired in different ways. The first few weeks, my hands were exhausted from all the manual work I do throughout the day. I find myself squatting a lot more to get better alignment with the treatment table. When I instruct a patient to complete a forearm plank for abdominal/core strengthening, I usually do the exercise alongside him. But, I am nowhere close to walking five miles a day.

And - get this! To top it off, I receive emails alerting me to when other staff members bring treats and snacks to the back conference room. The trend seems to be two to three emails per week, from what I can tell. It is a nice, friendly email usually celebrating a birthday or leftover snacks from a weekend party. Nothing like a little message reminding me where I can find more calories in the day!

Obviously, this change in activity has manifested itself in unpleasant ways. My clothes fit, um, differently than they used to. I should explain. I'm a fairly thin-framed lady. I wear size "small" clothes. I haven't ever had to diet like many of my friends. But, I can normally notice even the smallest fluctuations in my weight, and this combination of changes in my life is no different.

So, I've had to make some other changes. My workouts aren't optional anymore. I'm much more conscious of portion sizes for my meals. If I know there are snacks in the conference room, I substitute it as part of my meal instead of simply adding more calories. I put a few inspirational quotes at my desk to remind myself to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I want to be a role model for my patients.

What do you think? Do you find yourself struggling with a sedentary job? How do you stay active throughout the day?


I went from delivering home care in New York City on foot every day to riding in a car all day here in the UK. I put on a stone (14 pounds) at least since I've been here, despite going more regularly to the gym. And believe me, it isn't an increase in muscle density!

Good luck in the battle against the treats!

Dean Metz April 14, 2012 5:39 AM

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