National Cancer Survivors Day: Celebrating Survivorship

National Cancer Survivors Day

Paula Harrelson, RN

National Cancer Survivors Day® is a celebration for those who have survived, an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families, and an outreach to the community.

On National Cancer Survivors Day, cancer survivors and supporters in communities around the world will gather to celebrate life and raise awareness of the issues of cancer survivorship.

Touro is celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day with a special video collection featuring some of our very own inspirational survivors.

View our videos on Touro’s YouTube channel.

Cancer Survivors Video 1
Cancer Survivors Video 2

Cancer Survivor

What is a cancer survivor?

The meaning and understanding of survivorship can vary from person to person. According to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, a cancer survivor is anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.

There are nearly 14.5 million children and adults with a history of cancer living in the United States today. National Cancer Survivors Day is an opportunity to celebrate the fact that people are living longer and better quality lives after cancer than ever before.

Cancer Survivorship Program at Touro

Near the end of cancer treatment, it is normal to feel many emotions ranging from hope to happiness to uncertainty and fear. With the Cancer Survivorship Program at Touro, each patient’s health and wellbeing are the main focus when moving forward into the survivor stage of their cancer journey.

In this phase of care, the focus shifts from treating cancer to helping patients recover from treatment and become a healthy, informed survivor. Just as every person’s cancer experience is unique, adjusting to life after treatment is an individual challenge that involves mind, body and spirit.

Our program helps patients adjust to living beyond cancer by providing information, support and encouragement. Patients get the chance to meet one-on-one with Touro’s Survivorship Coordinator to:

  • Develop a treatment summary and personal care plan
  • Assess your specific needs
  • Make referrals for follow-up care

To learn more about the Cancer Survivorship Program at Touro or to schedule an appointment, please contact Paula Harrelson, RN at 504-897-8970.

Harrelson, PaulaPaula Harrelson, RN has over 30 years of nursing experience. After experiencing a diagnosis of breast cancer herself in 2003, Paula was inspired to dedicate the remainder of her nursing career to working with others diagnosed with cancer. As Touro’s Survivorship Coordinator, Paula is passionate about helping people address their needs and regain and sense of wellness to move forward with living. 

>> Click here to learn more about the Cancer Survivorship Program at Touro.

Stroke Awareness Month

Learn Stroke Warning Signs and Save a Life

Mary Genovese RN, MSN, CCRN

Each May, during National Stroke Awareness Month, it is a good time to reeducate our community on steps they can take to prevent stroke and warning signs to help identify stroke early. Strokes are the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of long-term disability. Strokes kill more than 137,000 Americans each year but most people do not consider stroke a serious health concern.

The good news is up to 80% of strokes can be prevented through living a healthy lifestyle.

Click here to learn about preventing stroke in women.

stroke characteristics

What is a Stroke?

Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. Disruption in blood flow is caused when either a blood clot blocks one of the vital blood vessels in the brain (ischemic stroke), or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into surrounding tissues (hemorrhagic stroke).

The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to function. Even a brief interruption in blood supply can cause problems. A loss of brain function occurs with brain cell death. This may include impaired ability with movement, speech, thinking and memory, bowel and bladder, eating, emotional control, and other vital body functions.

Recovery from stroke and the specific ability affected depends on the size and location of the stroke. A small stroke may result in problems such as weakness in an arm or leg. Larger strokes may cause paralysis (inability to move part of the body), loss of speech, or even death.

Stroke Warning Signs

According to the National Stroke Association (NSA), it is important to learn the 3 R’s of stroke:

  • Reduce the risk.
  • Recognize the symptoms.
  • Respond by calling 911 (or your local ambulance service).

Stroke is an emergency and should be treated as such. The greatest chance for recovery from stroke occurs when emergency treatment is started immediate

Reducing Stroke Risk

You can reduce stroke risk by controlling treatable diseases that increase stroke risk:

  • High Blood Pressure (if left untreated, high BP can weaken blood vessels and damage major organs such as the brain)
  • Atrial Fibrillation (AF) (resulting irregular heart beat can lead to blood clots that can are carried to the brain, increasing stroke risk)
  • High Cholesterol (High levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream can clog arteries and lead to stroke or heart attack)
  • Diabetes (People with diabetes are up to 4 times more likely to have a stroke than someone who does not have the disease)
  • Atherosclerosis (the progressive buildup of plaque in artery walls. It can clog arteries and block the flow of blood to the brain)

Lifestyle changes:

  • Stop smoking and/or use of tobacco; smoking doubles your risk of stroke.
  • Limit use of alcohol, drinking large amounts may increase risk of stroke.
  • Obesity and excess weight increase risk for stroke.

Stroke Symptoms and Warning Signs

Learn the many warning signs of a stroke. Act FAST and CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY at any sign of a stroke. Use FAST to remember the warning signs:

Stroke symptoms

FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?

ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one side drift downward?

SPEECH:  Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

TIME:  If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Stroke symptoms include:

  • SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body.
  • SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause.

Genovese, MaryMary Genovese RN, MSN, CCRN is AVP of Med Surg/Critical Care at Touro Infirmary. Throughout her 40 years of nursing, Mary has served various leadership and management roles in telemetry, coronary care and other specialties. Mary is a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), American Nurses Association, and was inducted into Nursing Honor Society, Sigma Theta Tau, in 2008. Mary has maintained Certification in Critical Care Nursing (CCRN) from 1989 to present, and has been recognized as a Great100 Nurse (2000) and City Business Woman of the Year (2009). Mary earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Louisiana State University School of Nursing in 1978 and earned her Master of Nursing in Healthcare Systems Management in 2008.

Safe Sleep for Babies

Safe Sleep for Your Newborn

Tanya Robinson, RN

Safe Sleep for BabiesThe birth of your baby is one of the most exciting events in your life. The more knowledge you have prior to the baby’s arrival, the more confidence you will have as you transition to home with your newest family member. One of the most important infant safety practices is establishing safe sleep for your baby. This includes both a safe sleep environment and correct sleeping position.

Newborn Sleep Patterns

Most infants wake up every 2-3 hours for feedings until 6 to 8 weeks of age. Each baby tends to establish his own pattern of newborn sleep. Some babies sleep after feedings and some take only brief, occasional naps.

Nighttime sleeping patterns will change between 4-8 weeks of age. The majority will start sleeping through one or two nighttime feedings, allowing for 5-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. You should plan your rest and nighttime sleeping periods to match your baby’s.

Reduce SIDS Risk with Safe Sleep

In Louisiana, approximately 80 babies die each year from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is the broad medical term for sudden, unexplained deaths of infants before they reach their first birthdays. SIDS occurs when otherwise healthy babies die in their sleep for no apparent reason.

These deaths are often related to an unsafe sleep environment, and all new mothers and their families need to understand the importance of placing infants in a safe sleep environment to Reduce SIDS risk.  

Ensure your baby is in a safe sleep environment positioned on his or her back for sleeping.

> Click here for more on safe sleep for your baby.

Safe Sleep for Your Baby

What is a Safe Sleep Environment?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends several actions related to creating a safe sleep environment for infants.  AAP’s recommendations include:

  • Placing the baby on his/her back to sleep for every sleep
  • Using a firm sleep surface
  • Sharing the room, but not the bed
  • Keeping soft objects and loose objects out of the crib

Safe Sleep Position for Babies

Sleeping on back (face up) is recommended for infants to reduce the risk of SIDS. Side sleeping is not safe and is not advised. Once an infant can roll from the face up to face down and vice versa, the infant can be allowed to remain in the sleep position that he or she assumes.

Click here to learn more about safe sleep.


While there is an array of beautiful crib bedding and accessories to choose from, parents are advised to avoid placing loose and potentially hazardous items in the crib. This includes pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and other soft surfaces when placed under the infant or loose in the sleep environment. Wedges and positioning devices, as well as bumper pads and similar products are not recommended.

Robinson, TanyaTanya Robinson, RN, graduated from nursing school in 1987. She has extensive experience in the field of nursing including pediatrics, well-baby nursery, NICU, and post-partum as well as adult med-surg and ICU.  Tanya has worked at Touro’s Family Birthing Center for almost 16 years and serves as Director of Touro’s Postpartum Unit, Well-Baby Nursery, and Lactation Center. 

Click to learn about Touro’s childbirth and parenting classes.

Take Steps for Better Health during Women’s Health Week

Women’s Health: It Matters

Kim Faught, RN

national women's health weekAs women, we tend to play an active role in the health of our families and loved ones, but as busy “caregivers” of others, we tend to sacrifice time spent caring for ourselves. Touro supports better health by recognizing National Women’s Health Week, May 10-16, 2015.

At Touro, we know that your days are filled with activities to care for your loved ones. Now it’s time for you to take a moment to focus on yourself and take steps to improve your health for life. A healthy you is the best version of yourself, and will help you fulfill your many roles and responsibilities in life from home to work to play! This can be as simple as making time for that overdue women’s check-up.

Steps for better women's health5 Steps for Better Women’s Health and Wellness Today

1. Improving your own women’s health and wellness comes from understanding your unique health needs and risks that are different from men.
a. Heart disease kills 50,000 more women than men annually, and women are more likely to have a second heart attack. Heart disease affects women approximately 10 years later than men. Know your risks for heart disease.

b. Osteoporosis causes a higher rate of bone loss. 80% of the people who are diagnosed with osteoporosis are women. If you are age 65 or older, ask your provider about having a bone density scan (DEXA scan) at the Touro Imaging Center.

c. Smoking has a more devastating effect on women’s heart health than men’s. Women are less likely to kick the habit and suffer from more withdrawal symptoms. Quit today for yourself and your loved ones. Click here for tips to get started.

d. STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) are contracted by women twice as often as men. Practice safe and responsible sex. Talk to your provider to determine if you are at risk.

e. Alcohol is not broken down in the stomach the same way that it is in men because women produce less of the gastric enzyme needed to break down the alcohol. As a result, women have a higher blood alcohol level than men after consuming the same amount of alcohol. Limit your alcohol intake to one serving per day.
2. Get regular women’s checkups and preventive screenings. Click here if you need a referral to a primary care physician or OB/GYN.

3. Start moving, get active, and stay active. You should engage in 150 minutes of exercise each week to maximize women’s wellness.

4. Don’t ignore your mental health. Manage your stress and get enough sleep each night.

5. Kick unhealthy habits, such as smoking, texting while driving, and not wearing your seatbelt.

Society for Women’s Health Research
Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,

Kim FaughtKim Faught, RN, is Women’s Services Director at Touro Infirmary. Kim graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Kim has 35 years of experience in all aspects of women’s healthcare, including hospital and clinic operations. Kim’s goal is to provide coordinated, comprehensive, and compassionate services to women.

Click here to read a Women’s Health Week Infographic and learn more about scheduling your well-woman visits.

Benefits of Volunteering

Vernilyn Juan, M.D.

It is always wonderful to give back and put others before yourself.  Here are four reasons why volunteering is a great idea and how you can truly make a positive impact and difference on others and yourself.

Colors hands up

1. Connects You to Others
If you feel stuck in your ordinary routine and are looking to branch out to make new friends and contacts, volunteering can increase your social and relationship skills. It allows you to connect to your community and help make it a better place, while broadening your support network and exposing you to people with common interests and neighborhood resources.

2. Good for Your Mind and Body
Volunteering can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  If you are feeling blue, it can help increase self-confidence and life satisfaction. In fact, a “feel-good” sensation is released and can reduce stress levels producing calmness. In fact, Allen Luk, past executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, explains that the immediate positive emotion most volunteers experience is known as “helper’s high”, which allows you to feel self-worthy and proud.

3. Advance Your Career
If you are looking to beef up your resume, volunteering is perfect. Not only will you learn valuable job skills, volunteering allows you to try a new career and gain experience in a new field without making a long-term commitment.

4. Brings Fun and Fulfillment to Your Life
Volunteering can be fun too! Volunteering is an easy way to explore your interests and passions. It can bring you renewed creativity, motivation and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life.

Where do I find volunteer opportunities?

  • Community Centers
  • Libraries & Museums
  • Clubs & Youth Organizations
  • Historical Restorations & Parks
  • Places of Worship/Religious Groups
  • Tutoring/Mentoring
  • Nonprofits & Charity Fundraisers
  • Hospitals & Long Term Care Facilities

Looking for a volunteer opportunity at Touro Infirmary?
Visit or call Touro Volunteer Services at (504) 897-8107 to learn more today!

verlinVernilyn Juan, M.D. is a Family Medicine physician with Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro. Dr. Juan is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

>> Click here for details on Dr. Juan’s practice.

The Role of a Midwife

Tisha Seghers, APRN-CNM

What is a Midwife?

Midwives are trained professionals for mothers and infants with special skills in supporting women to maintain a positive pregnancy and healthy birth experience including postpartum support. They are there to offer expert personalized care, counseling and education for each expecting family. A midwife can help identify any unique social, physical, spiritual, cultural or emotional needs a woman may have and provide them with a safe and individualized childbirth plan such as natural, water ormedicated/epidural.

Doctor and pregnant woman in doctor's office

Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)

A CNM is an independent health care provider that is educated, trained and licensed in nursing and midwifery. They meet the certification requirements of the American College of Nurse-Midwives and primarily attend births in hospitals and birth centers.

What if outside care is required?

Midwives work collaboratively with physicians, nurses, doulas and other members of a woman’s health care team. Should a woman ever need care that is required outside of the midwife’s scale of practice, a referral is provided to address any additional care. Essentially, a midwife can work hand in hand with other providers to ensure the most positive, safe and comfortable birth experience.

Midwives care for women across the lifespan:

Additional woman-centered services include:

  • Comprehensive gynecology for adolescents and adults
  • Family planning and contraception
  • Peri/postmenopausal care
  • Preconception counseling
  • Prenatal, birth and postpartum care
  • Sexually transmitted infection testing and counseling

Looking for a Midwife at Touro?

If you would like to work with a midwife for your care and delivery, Touro is here to support your choice. We work closely with our physicians to make your birth experience as safe and comforting as possible. Whether becoming a mother for the first time or expanding your growing family, we will collaborate with our trusted OB/GYNs to give moms more birthing choices.
To learn more or make an appointment, call (504) 897-7880.

Seghers, TishaTisha Seghers, APRN-CNM, is a Certified Nursre Midwife at Touro Infirmary. Tisha worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse for 14 years before attending graduate school to study nurse midwifery. She graduated from Frontier Nursing University (Hyden, Kentucky) in September, 2014 with a Master of Science degree in nursing. Tisha is a New Orleans native, married to her high-school sweetheart and mother of two young children.

Preventing Falls

Lillian O’Cain, LOTR, CAPS

April is National Occupational Therapist Month, a time where we recognize the many caution signfacets of this field designed to help people live life to its fullest despite physical or mental hurdles that may occur. With that in mind, I am reminded of a quote pertaining to one of my many professional passions: Fall Prevention! “It is better to keep a friend from falling than to help him up” – unknown.

Falls are more common than you might expect. Anyone of any age can fall. Falls are an important health problem among our senior population that is largely preventable. The consequence of the fall becomes more of a concern as we age. More than one in three people over the age of 65 years or older falls each year, and the likelihood of falling increases with advancing age. Two- thirds of those who experience a fall will fall again within 6 months. According to the CDC falls were the leading cause of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) between 2006 and 2010, which was 40 % of all TBI’s that resulted in an ED visit, hospitalization, or death.

Even if the injury is minor, a fall can impact the quality of life as it can induce a fear of falling again. Fear of falling can lead to self imposed activity restrictions, social isolation and depression. The individual may cut back on activities he or she is capable of doing and this can lead to deconditioning and an increase in fall risk. It’s a cyclical process.

How do falls happen?
At least one-third of all falls in the elderly involve an environmental hazard in the home.
Below are the risk factor categories that account for most falls:

  • ACTIVITY (A): muscle weakness caused through lack of exercise or physical activity
  • BALANCE (B): balance and walking (poor balance)
  • FOOTWEAR (F): foot problems, footwear (poorly fitting), and clothing
  • HEALTH FACTORS (H): health issues, poor confidence, poor nutrition
  • EYES (E): eyesight (poor vision) and poor hearing, a new pair of eyeglasses
  • MEDICATION (M): medications (side effects)
  • ENVIRONMENT (E): home safety (slippery surfaces).

Consequences of Falls:
Falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions and 40% of all nursing home admissions. 5 – 10% of falls result in a fracture, the most serious being a broken hip fracture. Falls can also result in reduced mobility, decreased independence and increased dependence on others, fear of falling, loss of confidence, decreased ability to participate in activities and enjoy life, hospitalization, admission to a nursing home, and even death.

The Good News = A large portion of falls are preventable!
Taking time to assess causes of falls and how you can prevent them (or prevent falls for a loved one) is the key.
You may want to consider the following:

  1. What are the causes of falls, and the consequences?
  2. What can you do to try and prevent falls?
  3. How can you make this happen?
  4. What are the barriers to making this happen?
  5. How can you overcome the barriers and make the changes? How can you keep it happening?

What can you do?

  • Identify ways to make your home safer – Inspect the house for fall hazards
  • Modify risky behaviors – don’t hold onto the towel rack in the bathroom
  • Ask for help (or offer to help a loved one) – ask someone to climb the ladder to change the light bulb- everyone wants to feel needed
  • Learn problem solving techniques to unsafe behaviors – don’t rush to the phone to answer
  • Tell someone if you fall/have fallen
  • Gain strength and improve balance – commercials are a great time to exercise
  • Lift feet and walk heel to toe
  • Be aware of slippery surfaces and other obstacles (bathroom and walking in unfamiliar places)
  • Slow your pace and be aware – (Don’t talk and walk at the same time- focus on the walking)

Maintaining your strength and balance is an insurance policy for your independence in daily living. If you do fall, please tell someone so they can make sure you are ok and can help eliminate the potential of the fall occurring again. Remember a large portion of falls are preventable.

OCain, LilLillian O’Cain, LOTR, CAPS has over 25 years experience as an Occupational Therapist at Touro Infirmary and in 2013 was promoted to Program Manager for Touro’s STAR Program (Survivorship, Training and Rehabilitation). Lil received a bachelor of science in Occupational Therapy from Louisiana State University School of Allied Health Professions in 1986. She has developed a passion in the field of study for both fall prevention and Aging in Place and regularly volunteers her time to offer innovative programming and opportunities to educate seniors, caregivers, physicians and Touro staff.

Family Friendly Meal Planning

Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

Teaching our children to be healthy starts with living that way ourselves. In today’s busy mother and son shopping for groceriesworld of juggling our many roles and responsibilities as parents, finding time to eat healthy is best achieved with a little preparation. The first step is being aware of the importance of good nutrition. Poor nutrition and eating habits can lead to diabetes, obesity, eating disorders, and distorted body image. I can’t over-stress the importance of establishing good eating habits early.

Every family is different and there is no one-size-fits-all philosophy or plan, so do what makes the most sense for you and your children. Some tips to help include:

  • Plan ahead: meals, grocery list, etc. Get the family involved in healthy decisions. Cook several meals on Sunday, or do as much preparation as you can for week-night meals to save time and make healthy cooking quick and easy.
  • Build your meals around lean protein and then pick vegetables as these should be your main focus. Then add in a healthy carbohydrate option.
  • Choose lean meats such as skinless chicken, pork loin, eye of round, fish, 93% lean ground beef, ham and turkey.
  • Spend extra time in the produce section. Choose a variety of colors. Buy fruits and vegetables that are on sale as it is a great option to freeze fresh produce for later use.
  • Choose whole-wheat bread and pastas, brown rice, grain mixes, quinoa, bulgur, and barley. To help your family get used to whole grains, you can start out with whole-wheat blends and slowly transition to 100% whole-wheat pasta and breads.
  • Find a variety of ways to increase your family’s fiber. Try beans, quinoa, fresh fruits and vegetables, Boulger, and lentils. Limit processed foods as these tend to be low in nutrition and fiber.
  • Practice the “one new thing” rule: Try a new vegetable, fruit, healthy product, etc. Something that you didn’t like as a kid or completely new to the family. Variety is the key!

Click here to visit Touro’s online health library for healthy recipe ideas for your family!

Click here to learn about nutrition basics.

Fortenberry, JulieJulie Fortenberry is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling. 

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Natalie Pilie, MPT

Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in children and adults from ages one to 44.  Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) changes the way a person thinks, acts, feels, and moves the body. Brain injury can permanently or temporarily change the complex functions of the body.

Each year, an estimated 2.4 million children and adults in the U.S. sustain a TBI – resulting in 52,000 deaths each year. Another 795,000 individuals sustain an acquired brain injury from non-traumatic causes. Currently more than 5.3 million children and adults in the U.S. live with a lifelong disability as a result of TBI. The leading causes of TBI are: falls, motor vehicle-traffic crashes, struck by/against events, and assaults.


Trauma can happen in a fraction of a second and your life can be drastically changed forever.  A brain injury is devastating and the degree of recovery is never certain.  A brain injury affects each person’s body differently.   Injury to the brain may result in changes in behavior, varying levels of consciousness as well as one’s ability to remember. An individual’s ability to speak, reason, and make good judgment can also be compromised. Each of one’s senses may be altered after an injury to one’s brain.  Caring for a person with a traumatic brain injury requires a highly specialized medical team as well as patient, caring loved ones to aid in their recovery.

Caring for a person with a brain injury can be one of the most challenging situations.  However, helping a person to return to work, go to college, play with their kids again or walk their daughter down the aisle makes all the rehabilitation processes gratifying. A strong team approach is required when working with someone with a brain injury.  The team may consist of: physicians, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, neuropsychologists, therapeutic recreational therapists, rehab counselors, case managers, dieticians and respiratory therapists.

A brain injury not only affects the person, but everyone in their family and their community.   Life is turned upside down, daily routines are altered and every ounce of energy is directed towards the patient and their recovery.  A brain injury is a lifelong disease process; therefore, family members are encouraged to participate throughout the rehabilitation process in order to gain an understanding of the injury.  They must learn how to assist their loved one in order to further maximize their potential.

Learning of the resources that are available to the patient and their family will also aide in the recovery process.

Always remember, the brain is remarkable and as professionals who have the special responsibility of assisting our patients back to function; we are constantly astonished and amazed by what our patients are able to achieve.

Brain Injury Rehab at Touro

The Touro Rehabilitation Center is a CARF accredited facility with specialized rehabilitation services for brain injury.  We improve the quality of life for adolescents and adults by enhancing function, increasing independence and facilitating community re-entry.

> Click here to learn more.
Click here to visit Touro’s online health library for more about rehabilitation for brain injury.

Pilie,NatalieNatalie Pilie, MPT, graduated from the University of New Orleans with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology, Human Performance and Health Promotion. In 2007 she graduated from Louisiana State University Health Science Center with a Masters in Physical Therapy. She began her career as a Physical Therapist in 2007 at Touro’s Rehab Center. In 2009, she was promoted to Brain Injury Program Supervisor. She is a member of the Brain Injury Association of Louisiana and the American Physical Therapy Association.

Exercise Menu: A new approach to finding time for exercise

Robert Gardner, Ph.D., LPC

One common reason people give for not getting enough exercise is they don’t have time to do it. In our busy lifestyle, it can be a challenge to find time for regular exercise. You may identify with a shortage of time and how that impacts your ability to get regular exercise. Like so many people, you may have good intentions and plan on going to the gym or getting in a run; however, something happens during the day that keeps you from adhering to your plan. That is why it is important to consider taking a different approach that affords you greater flexibility with when and how much you exercise as well as the type of exercise you chose to do.
One way to build flexibility into your exercise routine involves using an “exercise menu.” This approach enables you to exercise everyday even when your day does not go as planned. Here’s how the exercise menu works:

  • As your day unfolds, determine how much time you have to devote to exercising
  • Based on the amount of time you can exercise, chose an activity from your Exercise Menu
  • It is recommended you vary the exercises you chose to do from one day to the next—this approach helps you focus on different muscle groups while keeping you motivated

When considering your own exercise menu, be aware of any limitations and obstacles that you must take into account in order for your menu to be “doable.” In other words, be realistic with yourself and include only those exercise activities you are able and willing to perform.

Example of an Exercise Menu

Available Time Type of Exercise
10 minutes
15-20 minutes
30 minutes
45 minutes
1 hour
1 hour
1 hour
90 minutes
2 hours
Perform planks while watching TV to strengthen abdominal muscles
Stretching routine at 6:30 in the morning
Walk around the block in the morning at a leisurely pace
Walk around the block after work with a neighbor at a brisk pace
Jog at Audubon Park after work at a moderate pace
Attend 5:30 p.m. yoga class on Wed. at Wild Lotus Yoga Studio
Attend a Pilates class at 9:00 a.m. on Sat. at Stone Creek Club
15-mile bike ride on river levee beginning at Audubon Park
Weekend 25-mile bike ride with cycling club that meets at City Park


Create Your Exercise Menu

Consider your daily schedule and create a menu that provides you with a variety of activities you enjoy and can realistically accomplish given the time you have available for exercise. Remember to be realistic with the types of exercise you choose to include on your menu and the length of time you propose exercising. If it’s not realistic, you likely won’t do it.

My Exercise Menu

Available Time
10 minutes
10 minutes
15 minutes
15 minutes
20 minutes
20 minutes
30 minutes
30 minutes
30 minutes
45 minutes
45 minutes
60 minutes
60 minutes
60 minutes
90 minutes
90 minutes
120 minutes
120 minutes
Type of Exercise

Comments: __________________________________________________________________

headshotRobert Gardner, Ph.D., LPC is Director of Psychosocial Oncology at Touro Infirmary and administers all aspects of Touro’s Supportive Cancer Care Center. Dr. Gardner earned his Ph.D.. from the University of New Orleans in 2008. He completed his Internship at Tulane Cancer Center in 2005, where he also served as Clinical Mental Health Counselor from 2006 – 2008. Dr. Gardner is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Louisiana.

>> Click here for details on Dr. Gardner and the Supportive Cancer Care Center at Touro.