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Benefits of Movement [PODCAST]

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In this episode, we’re pleased to welcome Ben Reuter, PhD, an exercise physiologist with interests in injury prevention, performance enhancement for endurance athletes, and using movement to enhance quality of life. In this episode, Ben will share with us the benefits of movement. 

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Highlights of this episode include:

  • Why is it important for people to move regularly?
  • What’s the best activity or movement activity to do?
  • How can you make time to move?
  • How organizations can handle uncontrollable external factors

Kelly Wisness: Hi, this is Kelly Wisness. Welcome back to the award-winning Hospital Finance Podcast. We’re pleased to welcome Ben Reuter, PhD, a faculty member at a regional university near Pittsburgh. An exercise physiologist, he holds certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the National Athletic Trainers Association. He has interests in injury prevention, performance enhancement for endurance athletes, and using movement to enhance quality of life. Ben is also the host of two podcasts, Moving to Live and Fitness Lab Pittsburgh. In this episode, Ben will share with us the benefits of movement. Thank you for joining us today, Ben.

Ben Reuter, PHD: Kelly, thanks for having me on. I’m always excited to talk about movement.

Kelly: We’re excited to have you here today. So, let’s just jump into it today, shall we? Why is it important for people to move regularly?

Ben: Well, I think we can spout all kinds of statistics, but most of your listeners probably know that. I think the best answer for that is movement can go a long way towards enhancing our quality of life. And if you have any listeners who are older or they have parents or maybe grandparents who are aging, you can really see the difference in many of them who maintain an active lifestyle. Not necessarily – I’m saying this in air quotes – exercise, but they’re active versus just sitting around. You can see potentially a longer lifespan, but more importantly, a better quality of life.

Kelly: Yes, definitely. And what’s the best activity or movement activity to do?

Ben: That’s a question that every podcast I’ve been on, people have asked. And actually, what we do with one of my podcasts here in the Pittsburgh area, we do movement tip lifestyle hacks. And that came up in one of the videos we released this week. The best type of movement to do for most people, if they’re not already engaged in regular movement activities following the World Health Organization or the American College of Sports Medicine exercise guidelines, first of all, make sure you’re cleared by a physician. But second of all, pick for the majority of the time that you’re going to move something that you enjoy. So, I always use this as an example. My movement joys are going out in the woods with my dogs, riding my bike in the woods, preferably with hills. My movement that I will not do on a regular basis simply because this is me, I hate yoga classes. I’ve taken yoga classes, I’ve tried them. I think they’re very beneficial, but for me, they don’t work. So, for anybody who’s saying, “I know I need to do more movement regularly, what should I do?” Step one, pick something that you enjoy after getting cleared by a physician. Step number two is look ahead and say, “What do you want to do with this movement?” If you’re having problems getting up and down from the floor, it might be beneficial to hire a personal trainer for a couple of sessions to give you a home exercise program. But the most important thing is to start out doing something, so it becomes a regular part of your life. We’ve got the ethos on our podcast: movement is a lifestyle, not just an activity.

Kelly: It makes a lot of sense. I’ve found some things over the years that I really enjoy doing, and not everyone does, but I agree with you completely. You have to find something that you’re passionate about and that you enjoy, or else it’s just a lot of work, right?

Ben: Exactly. And you look forward to dreading it, or you look for excuses not to do it. One of the things I realized, I lived in Florida and Alabama and Georgia for a number of years before I moved to southwestern Pennsylvania, and I’d grown up in the Northeast, and it took me a couple of years to get used to the colder weather. But now I realize the colder it is, the snowier it is, where you might say, “I really don’t want to go outside and move,” I’ve got two Labradors, and to see the joy that they have, it’s like, “Okay. I might not want to go out and move, but I’m going to take them out at least for 15 to 20 minutes because they’re more easy to handle at home.” You see the joy that they have. And I’ve never finished an activity where I’ve moved, where I’ve said, “God, I wish I hadn’t done that,” even on those activities that maybe I’ve crashed on the bike. So, the positives far outweigh the negatives of just doing some sort of movement.

Kelly: I completely agree. And with the dog thing. We have a golden retriever, so I totally feel you with that. She loves the cold and the snow. How can you make time to move? I mean, that’s challenging with our busy schedules, right?

Ben: It is incredibly challenging. And I think it takes an entirely specific outlook and a conscious choice to say, “I’m going to change the way that I look in life. I’m going to change my outlook on life.” And rather than saying, “Okay. I have to move or I have to get my workout in, or I have to take a walk–” you probably didn’t wake up this morning and say, “I have to brush my teeth.” Or if you have a favorite television show, you probably didn’t say, “I have to watch this show tonight, or I have to record it.” It’s something you look forward to. And unfortunately, people in the movement field, going all the way back to physical education classes – and I can speak as somebody who’s in the field – we don’t do a good job of making people understand that movement should be fun. Yes, there may be certain activities that you do so you can do other things. So maybe you’re somebody who doesn’t like to do stretching or mobility work, but you also recognize that if you don’t do it, maybe it affects your Pickleball game that you’re playing. So, you want to be able to play Pickleball to interact with your friends, interact with your family, but if you don’t stretch, you might get hurt. So it’s like, “Okay, I’ll do this thing that I don’t really like, but I know that I’m doing it for a better reason.” So, the way that you make a choice is you just make a conscious decision. This is a change in lifestyle. And there are certain people who maybe are blessed with it. Maybe they live in an area where it’s completely the norm, where you’re abnormal or not typical would be a better word. If you don’t move, if you go to some towns out west, Boulder, Colorado, more people move than don’t move just because that’s the lifestyle there. I live in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. It’s less likely. Now, some of that is weather-related, some of that’s cultural, some of that’s environmental, but you have to think you’re not doing it so other people can look at you and say, “Wow. Kelly, that’s really great. You take a walk at lunch every day.” You’re doing it so you can do the things you want to do, not only now, but 5 years from now, 10 years from now, even longer. I do a little bit of personal training on the side. Most of my clients are older in their forties, fifties, sixties. I tell them, “You’re doing this so you can do what you want to do literally with a little luck, knock-on-wood, up until the day that you die. So it’s a conscious choice of saying, “This is something that’s important to me. I need to carve out some time to do it, even if it’s only as little as 15 to 20 minutes a day.”

Kelly: Sure. Completely agree with that. It definitely has to become part of your routine and your schedule. And I know you kind of touched on some of this a little bit, but what are your recommendations for getting started?

Ben: Step number one, I tell everybody, get checked out by your family practice physician or general practice physician if you’re not moving on a regular basis simply because you want to make sure that there aren’t any underlying conditions that exercise may need to be modified or you may not be ready to exercise. And then pick something that you enjoy. So, we’ll just say walking. And people may say, “Well, it’s just walking.” But you can look at it a number of different ways. First of all, you can look at it as this is a time you mentioned that many of your listeners are sitting at a desk for their job, or maybe they’re fortunate like you and have a standing desk even if they’re working from home. Pick a time when I can carve out 10 to 20 minutes a day. So maybe it’s before you get on that computer to start the workday. Maybe you’ve got a half hour for lunch and you’re going to take 15 minutes of walking. Something that you’re going to do. You’re saying, “This is going to happen most days of the week for 10 to 15 minutes.” And at the same time, know who you are. Know whether you like to do something with large groups of people. So, one of the great things about COVID, and I say that semi-jokingly because I don’t think anybody thinks COVID was a great thing, but one of the great things is all of a sudden it became much more prevalent and much more easily accessible to find various types of stretching classes, yoga classes, even high-intensity interval classes on the internet, streaming, some of them free. So if you’re somebody who enjoys that, that’s something that you can carve time out to. Some of them are relatively short. If you enjoy being with a friend– I’ve got a friend who’s on a hiatus from healthcare until her kids are older. But what she did when she was working, when her husband was working, is she and her friend in the neighborhood who was also in healthcare, met at 4:30 every morning and took a walk. Now, some of your listeners are going, “4:30 in the morning? I’m not going to do that.” But she knew this was a time that I could see my friend. We could catch up on conversation. This is my time. I don’t have to worry about my husband, my kids, my cats. This is my time.” So, I think people making a conscious choice and saying, “Okay. This is something that I’m going to do.” And then the final thing, because I think this is important, many people miss a day. Maybe you get called for an emergency meeting and you can’t make that scheduled activity or that scheduled lifestyle choice and you miss it. And you beat yourself up and you say, “Well, I’m a failure. I quit it.” If you get to the end of the week or the end of the month, and you’ve achieved 70 to 80 percent of the movement goals that you set, that’s a success. You’ve done much more than you would have done if you just said, “Well, I can’t do it.” And it sets you up to find out, what are the times of day that I enjoy? Where do I enjoy doing this type of movement? So, it sets you up to saying, “Boy, I really enjoyed that. Maybe I want to do a little bit more.”

Kelly: Completely agree with you. Yes. From personal experience, I am– I’m over here nodding my head. Yeah. And why should we look at movement as a lifestyle and not just an activity?

Ben: Another good question, and this is another example of why you want to become atypical for most people because if you look at some of the recommendations for exercise, I mentioned, the World Health Organization, the American College of Sports Medicine, for some instances, for some people, looking at those can be overwhelming. And the incentive is, “Well, I can’t do that. That’s too much for me to do, so I’m not going to do anything at all.” If you look at it as a lifestyle, it’s a conscious choice. And you’re looking at it to do it for two or three reasons. The most important reason is saying, “Look, you can do movement, and this is one of the best things that you can do for enhancing your quality of life and potentially enhancing your lifespan.” So we know that if you have the opportunity at lunchtime to go out and take a walk, maybe you have a park nearby, maybe you have an area– if you’re working in a hospital setting, maybe there’s an area around the hospital, a quiet area, or a seating area or some place where there’s trees, where there’s birds, that gives you a mental break from the noise. That gives you a mental break from even the sound of fluorescent lights in the medical setting. The constant somebody asking you to do something. So short term, it can be really beneficial just kind of as a reset. It’s like, “Okay. I’m ready to go back and finish out the day.” Long term, it sets you up so there you are. You’ve made a commitment that you’re going to take a walk on a regular basis. And then you’ve realized, “Hey, I’ve enjoyed this.” Maybe I’m going to do some sort of light resistance training or take a yoga class or a Pilates class online that I can do maybe with my husband, my wife, my boyfriend, girlfriend.” So that what you’re doing is you’re setting yourself up for a couple of things. First of all, you go on vacation, and there’s the opportunity to go on that hike, or somebody says, “Hey, let’s go stand-up paddle boarding.” And you have the physical fitness or the physical health to be able to do that. One of the great stories that I like to tell is, or two great stories, my dad’s 86. He still rides his bicycle because he hasn’t exercised all his life, but he’s stayed active. And when my grandmother was alive, when she was in her late nineties, she decided she wanted to go white water rafting. So, my dad took her white water rafting when she was 97 or 98 years old.

Kelly: That’s awesome.

Ben: On the one hand, some people may be saying, “How could you do that? She could fall out of the boat. She could break bones because she probably has some bone density loss.” But on the other hand, think of that. Rather than sitting at home having seen something on television or on the computer, she got to actually experience it. And then the final thing, the most important thing, and this is as a– I do not work in the healthcare field. I work in academia. I have worked in the healthcare field. But I firmly believe this everything in life is a stress. Good stress and bad stress. So we have you stress or good stress, and bad stress, distress. You stress. They call you into the office and they say, “Hey, Kelly. We’ve decided you’re doing a great job in this podcast. We’re going to let you do only this and we’re going to double your salary.” You’re like, “That’s wonderful.” It’s still a stressor, but it’s a good stress. On the other hand, they call you into the office and say, “Kelly, you need to take on these duties. And in addition, we’re cutting your pay because healthcare costs are rising, and we need to make more money.” That’s a bad stress. Your body responds to good stress. Your body responds to bad stress. You cannot eliminate stress. But the stronger your body is, the stronger your mind is, the more able you’re able to withstand that stress, the better your quality of life is, and the lower the potential that you’re going to have illness or injury when something unexpected happens. A great example of this, if you think back to when you were in college, or if you have kids who are in college or high school, when’s the time they are most likely to get sick? Around finals time. The reason for that is, during the school year, we all know that most college students are probably not eating as well as they should. They’re probably not sleeping as much as they should. They may be doing some extracurricular activities involving things like beer, etc. Not all of them. So, they’re under a fair amount of stress. And then you get to the end of the semester, and all of a sudden, it’s like, “Okay. You’ve got all these tests added on,” and that’s an additional stressor. You could make the argument in that instance that they might be better off – and I know this is totally unrealistic for kids who are 18 to 22 years old – eat better, emphasize your sleep, move on a regular basis. So when you get that extra stressor, your body is stronger and you’re better able to withstand that stress of the finals, and you’re less likely to get sick.

Kelly: I can certainly attest to that. My daughter is in college and all of what you just said is completely true. Yep. That’s when she certainly gets sick, and then, of course, she comes home right after that. So that’s always great. And how much is enough movement? I mean, I know you’ve talked a little bit about carving time out. But is there any sort of official recommendation on what can be considered good timing?

Ben: Sure. The World Health Organization and the American College of Sports Medicine both have recommendations, which I’ll comment on in just a second. I think the key thing to emphasize about movement as a lifestyle is to recognize, if it’s part of a lifestyle, there’s going to be times when you can do more. There’s going to be times when you can do less. So, if you’ve got a busy project at work you know, “The next six months we’re putting in a new computer system for medical billing. I’m probably going to have to work a little overtime. I might have to do some weekend time.” That’s probably not the time to say, “Boy, I also want to increase my exercise or my movement.” Because two stressors at the same time, it might not be the best time. So American College of Sports Medicine recommends three to five times a week of aerobic exercise. Depending on the intensity, 150 to 300 minutes. So just take the upper end. 300 minutes is 5 hours. They recommend two resistance training sessions. And that’s what they recommend is the bare minimum. That’s similar to what the World Health Organization recommends. About 80, depending on the statistics, to 85 percent of Americans don’t reach that. So my comment or my easy answer to you saying what’s enough is for most of us more than you’re doing. But don’t all of a sudden say, “I’m going to dump it.” Start to take steps to figure out, “What can I do to add more movement – notice I’m saying movement, not exercise – into my life?” So, if you work in a big hospital that has multiple floors, ask yourself, “Are there times when I can take the steps versus taking the elevator? If I have to park in the parking garage, do I have to take the elevator up and down? Can I take the steps? If I’ve got an hour for lunch or 45 minutes for lunch, can I take 15 minutes to just walk around?” If you happen to have an office, I know a physician who’s in private practice. He keeps a Kettlebell, he keeps a suspension trainer, a TRX, he has a pull-up bar in his office. So maybe he’ll knock out a set of Kettlebell swings between patients, or he’ll do some TRX push-ups or something like that. I still remember when I worked for an orthopedic surgeon, he’d schedule his patients so he would have time to come into the office, ride the stationary bike for 15 to 20 minutes, take a quick shower before he started seeing patients.

So, I think if you’re treating movement as a lifestyle, you’re figuring out, “What are more ways that I can do?” Football season now. It’s really easy for people to say, “Boy, family time. Let’s sit down and watch the teams play.” How many families do you know that are saying, “It’s family time. Let’s go for a bike ride. Let’s go for a walk. Let’s go play in the woods. Let’s go play in the park.” And if you’re an adult and you’ve got kids, don’t be afraid to play on the swings. Don’t be afraid to have fun with this. And what you’re doing is by adding movement in and saying, “Okay. I need to do at least this much movement, but even more movement, if possible,” is you’re setting up not only yourself, but you’re also creating a positive role model for your children, your children’s friends. Co-workers that you work with are saying, “Wow. People are doing this, you’re doing this, can I take a walk with you?” And one final thing to think about when people say, “Well, here are the recommendations from various professional organizations.” Think about if you do six or eight hours of movement a week, basically an hour a day, a little bit more than an hour a day, and then the rest of the time, you’re sitting at a desk, you’re sitting in front of the television, you’re sitting at the dinner table, you’re essentially an active sedentary person. So I know you mentioned before we started recording, you’re working from home, but you’ve got a standing desk. I’ll one-up you. I’ve got a standing desk, and I’m standing on a wobble board. So, it’s not a lot, but it’s different than just sitting at a desk. And probably you’ve noticed just standing up all day if you’re talking to me now, you’re probably fidgeting around. You’re probably shifting from one leg to another. That’s movement. It’s not exercise per se, but that’s movement. And then if you realize, “Boy, I’m tired. My feet are a little sore.” Then, you’re more likely to say, “Well, I’m going to walk down to the refrigerator and get a glass of water.” So, you’re going to bring more movement in. As opposed to sitting on the desk, slumping down, one elbow on the desk, the other elbow on the desk. And I’ve learned over time, I bought a standing desk about seven years ago, one of the ones that goes up and down. My thought was, “Well, I’ll spend half of the day standing, half of the day sitting because I teach online for my university from home,” I haven’t put the desk down yet. I stand. And what I’ve found is, when I get tired of standing on the wobble board, that’s the time for me to take a 10- or 15-minute break and move around a little bit more so I don’t get to the end of the day all achy.

Kelly: Yeah. Agree. No, the standing desk has been a game-changer for me. I love it. And those are some really great tips. Thank you. And how does regular activity reduce stress? So, I know all of us have stressful jobs, including our listeners. What can you tell us to help us with that?

Ben: I want to change the way people think about that. Rather than saying, “Can we reduce stress?” I think we need to say, “How can we manage stress?” Because you’re not going to reduce stress.

Kelly: So can moving improve people’s thinking?

Ben: I think there’s no question that moving can improve people’s thinking. Just anecdotally, first of all, talking to people I’ve got a number of people that I work with that I know who have gotten treadmill desks, so they’ve one-upped you and me. And they say walking at a low rate of speed, just that low amount of motion, helps stimulate their thinking. And these are people who are involved in high-tech writing computer programs and things like that. I found when I’m on podcasts or when I’m talking to people, right now, I’m tethered to my desk, on a standing desk because I’m talking to the microphone, but if we were talking on the phone, I would be walking around my house, walking up and down the steps. That movement, that rhythmic activity, seems to stimulate thinking. And the other thing, if you’re somebody who’s in administration where you’re a boss and you have to have difficult conversations, all of us have had those. Whether we’ve had to have a difficult conversation with somebody who’s a subordinate to us or whether we’re the subordinate and our boss is having a difficult conversation. Sometimes taking a walk and having that conversation is easier. Because if you’re sitting across the desk or you’re sitting across the table, that is ramping up and increasing the stress. That’s an offensive or a defensive position. But if you say, “Hey, Kelly. Let’s take a walk. There’s something we need to talk about and address,” it’s less threatening. You’re more likely to think more clearly. And you’re also getting the advantage of you got a little bit of movement in.

Kelly: No, agree. Those are some great tips. Thank you. And thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your knowledge with us, Ben.

Ben: Oh, my pleasure.

Kelly: And Ben, if someone wants to get in touch with you, how best can they do that?

Ben: I’m going to give them two ways, not because I love social media, but it’s a necessary evil. The first way is, if you do a Google search for Fitness Lab Pittsburgh, three words, or F-I-T-L-A-B-P-G-H, about the first four pages are going to be various social media platforms for Fitness Lab Pittsburgh, which is one of my podcasts. Or, I do this with my girlfriend, what we do for FitLab Pittsburgh on all social media channels, probably the easiest way is Instagram, but it’s also on Facebook, and once a week on LinkedIn, we do three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, movement tip lifestyle hack videos, which are one-minute videos. And on Thursdays, we do Lab Lessons or Lessons from the Labradors because it’s never too late to learn from dogs. And what they are is just little tips to enhance quality of life, to enhance movement. So, the two easiest ways are Fitness Lab Pittsburgh or “FitLabPGH” Google search. Or if you do “FitLabPGH” If you like to scroll through social media, specifically Instagram, that will pull up and you’ll be able to watch all the videos. And for those of your listeners who are dog lovers, even if you don’t necessarily want to take that next step to increase your movement, what you’ll be able to do is you’ll be able to watch Labradors cavorting around while I talk about movement.

Kelly: I love that. I’ll check that out. Well, thanks so much, Ben. And thank you all for joining us for this episode of The Hospital Finance Podcast. Until next time…

[music] This concludes today’s episode of the Hospital Finance Podcast. For show notes and additional resources to help you protect and enhance revenue at your hospital, visit The Hospital Finance Podcast is a production of BESLER, SMART ABOUT REVENUE, TENACIOUS ABOUT RESULTS.


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