DATE: Nov 29, 2016
AUTHOR: Sharon Boyd, RDH, BS

Finding time to exercise can have a tremendous impact on the length of your career and the overall quality of your life. The key is to commit to a plan and never give up, no matter how badly you want to. Here are some tips to help you stick to a workout routine and feel your very best.

Pick a Time in the Day

Whether it means waking up an hour early three days a week or opting to walk during your lunch break, a successful exercise routine starts with just that: a routine. Marathon runners will tell you that it takes discipline, dedication and determination to make a workout plan a reality. Writing for's Marathon Blog, fitness expert Ty Velde says, "For 99% of us this means making and sticking to a plan, both in the short- and long-term, and trying to not deviate from it no matter what hurdles or challenges life throws at you."

Start by planning your week in advance, so that you don't have any excuses when it comes to skipping a workout. Stick with it! It's amazing what a good workout can do for your body as well as your mind. You can also benefit emotionally if you spend 30 minutes by yourself on a calm run outdoors; it gives you all that time to either prepare for, or reflect on, your day. Or you can use that half hour to clear your mind and think of nothing at all!

Get Creative to Find Time in Your Schedule

This is perhaps the most difficult part of starting an exercise routine: finding time to do it. If you wait until you have free time, it's probably not going to happen. For the dental hygienist, that means getting pretty creative to find time to exercise. In the past, you could have likely done squats while you waited on the processor. Now, not so much. Maybe you're not able to force yourself awake early or stay up late to lift weights or hop on the treadmill. Your only option is to get creative with the time that you do have.

Regardless of what is standing in your way, there's a good chance you can fit these easy activities into your busy day:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Do sit-ups during your favorite TV show (or at least the commercial breaks).
  • Spend 15 minutes of your lunch break to go on a brisk walk.
  • Do squats while you're folding laundry.
  • Flex your abs while you pump gas or stand in line at the grocery store.

Watch your posture while you're at it, as ergonomics play a crucial role in a dental hygienist's career. A study published by BioMed Centralpolled dental hygienists and found that neck, shoulder and lower back pain are extremely common among dental hygienists, so proper form is key.

Pair Up with a Friend

Accountability is one of the most important parts of sticking to a new routine. Consider getting together with a friend or co-worker over lunch to take your walk. Or, join a local gym or running club where others will hold you accountable for meeting up at the appropriate times. When you've told someone else that you're going to be there, you're far less likely to make up an excuse about not attending. You'll make new friends, too.

Set Realistic Expectations

Getting into shape isn't something that happens overnight. Start small and build up your endurance level each week. Remember, the goal is to improve your self-care, improve your quality of life, and reduce the risk of job-related injuries. Overexerting yourself will do the opposite and likely cause burnout.

Try out different types of workouts to see what you enjoy most, and give them each a few shots before passing them up for good. It may just be that trying something you've never done before may turn into your most loved hobby, whether it's Pilates, cycling or running.

Remember, deep breathing and stretches aren't just for yoga class. You can practice them at home and even during the workday.


  • Make an exercise schedule and stick to it.
  • Don't make excuses.
  • Find creative ways to squeeze a workout into everyday activities.

Why It's Important

The length of your dental hygiene career and quality of life may depend on a good exercise routine. Just remember, it takes dedication and time to stick to it, so don't get frustrated.