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Set a wellness example for your staff, residents

September 27, 2011
by Patricia Sheehan, Editor-in-Chief
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I fear I may have become one of those annoying people who proselytize the benefits of exercise and staying in shape—but I wasn’t always this way. As a young mother I dealt with the stress and boredom of endless childcare duties by overeating and underactivity. My weight ballooned and I felt sluggish and unhappy—and I was hardly a good role model for my impressionable kids.

Eventually, I got my bad habits under control but memories of my unhealthy past came back to me while attending last week’s AHCA/NCAL (American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living) conference in Las Vegas. Walking the show floor and covering educational sessions I was shocked by the number of overweight attendees. I mean, some of the people who made the same long trek as I from our hotel to the conference center looked like they were on a death march by the expressions of pain and exhaustion on their faces.

While I sympathize with these out-of-shape folks, I also want to encourage them to take a look at their lifestyles and consider some changes. Long-term care administrators and clinical team leaders set an example for their staff and residents alike.

I know all the excuses: crazy schedules, family commitments, underactive thyroids. But that’s all they really are—excuses. Once you make exercise and a sanely balanced diet part of your daily routine—and especially when you see positive results—you’d be amazed at how it becomes as natural and necessary as brushing your teeth. You’ll find stores of energy you never knew existed, you’ll feel more mentally focused and ready to tackle those daily challenges. You might just encourage your team, residents and family to follow your lead.

When it comes to exercise, find something that’s fun for you; for example, I despise running and swimming but I have a serious passion for stationary bike spin classes. The class camaraderie, hard-driving rock music and inspirational instructor (“work from the inside out,” “find your intention”) motivate and invigorate me. Maybe you’d prefer yoga, Zumba or hiking.

Deep into my middle-age years, I feel stronger and more energetic than I did in my 20s. Sure, there are days when I don’t feel like dragging my duppa to the studio and I still struggle with the occasional food binge—work stresses, the demands of family and other obligations will trigger an occasional run to the local bakery. But most of the time I turn to a strenuous workout instead. It does a body—and soul—good.

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Patricia Sheehan

Patricia Sheehan

@longtermliving

Patricia Sheehan wrote for Long-Term Living when she was editor-in-chief. She left that...