As a travel physical therapist, you already know that exercise is one of the critical keys to maintaining overall health and wellness. With summer here, maybe it’s time to take advantage of nature's gym and use hiking to improve your strength and skills to become a better physical therapist! Here’s how hiking can make a difference in your work:
Obviously, exercise is a necessary component to healthy living and should be a main priority in all of your patients' lives. The Mayo Clinic says adults should dedicate at least 150 minutes to moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Of course your patients may hear this and immediately think "No. It’s hot." Here’s where you come in. While your patients may not be able to dedicate a lot of time and effort to exercise, you can help them set goals to aim for by assigning them specific hikes. As you know, hiking is a great form of aerobic exercise that builds muscle, improves balance, helps maintain a healthy weight, improves cardiorespiratory fitness and more. Frankly, it can be the perfect starting point for someone who's neglected their health and needs to get back into a workout routine.
Much like any career in the healthcare field, a job in physical therapy takes patience. This is especially true when you're a travel PT since you're constantly changing work locations, and getting comfortable with new coworkers. Improving your ability to exhibit patience to your clients is essential to your success in physical therapy. That’s where hiking comes in. It’s the perfect way to sharpen your practice at patience. Not only are hiking trails unusually crowded since COVID-19 sent everyone outside, hitting a rocky area or passing throngs of people on narrow trails are a great way to become more patient in your practice. Not to mention the amount of time it takes to hike a trail beginning to end.
If the demanding hours of working as a traveling physical therapist have you feeling more stressed than usual, a hike can bring you the emotional and physical relief you need. According to Harvard Health Publishing, being outside in the fresh air offers natural, restorative stress-relieving power. Not only do you get the benefits of being in nature, but as you know, exercise produces endorphins, our bodies natural painkillers and mood elevators. Heading out for a hike and exploring nature’s gym is also a great distraction from any work-related stress you may be experiencing.
No matter how busy you might be as a traveling therapist, spend some time this summer dedicated to exploring nature trails and going on hikes near you. The outdoors teaches us invaluable lessons that shape us. And, you have clients who need help moving into new, healthier, habits. Here’s a way to motivate them.