Incorporating an exercise routine to stay fit and healthy while working as a nurse can be a complex task. As a profession that demands mental and physical efforts, nurses who fail to engage in physical activity may be at risk of experiencing poor health.
After all, nurses are responsible for lifting and supporting patients, aiding their mobility, and assisting with physical therapy, which can be physically taxing.
A Harvard Nurse's Health study revealed that nearly half of the participants exercised for only two hours per week due to their extended work hours and rotating shifts.
Finding spare time to look after your health and well-being can be difficult as a nurse. However, it's extremely important to prioritize fitness. Even though you may constantly be on your feet, inconsistent schedules may prevent you from getting enough physical activity.
Luckily, incorporating various healthy habits into your routine as a nurse doesn't have to be complicated, nor does it require a gym membership. With that in mind, here are a few steps to take as a nurse to stay healthy and fit.
Consider Online Nursing Degrees
Nurses work long and exhausting shifts, and adding further education to their schedules can make things more complicated. While balancing work, study, and physical activity may seem challenging, there is one thing you can do.
Instead of giving up exercise altogether, nurses can consider online education, like an RN to MSN online degree. This eliminates the need to travel for education and frees up time to work out at home. By reducing physical stress, nurses can conserve energy and avoid overworking their bodies.
In addition, it helps you save energy for work-related tasks and gives you the stamina to perform better when you decide to work out during your free time.
Utilize Fitness Aids
As a nurse, it is recommended that you join the trend of constantly working out, which many professionals have adopted, and use fitness tools to motivate yourself to remain physically active at all times.
Even small activities, such as doing bicep curls on the phone or carrying a resistance band in your nurse's uniform, can significantly impact your long-term health and well-being.
For instance, you may want to substitute your chair and desk with an exercise ball. Sitting on an exercise ball and working to maintain balance will strengthen your leg, hip, and core muscles. However, ensure your exercise ball has an anti-burst rating of five hundred kilograms.
Moreover, you might want to consider purchasing a fitness wearable like a pedometer or smartwatch. Alternatively, you can utilize the built-in fitness tracker on your mobile device to avoid spending extra money on your fitness goals.
Help Yourself by Helping Your Patients
Numerous studies demonstrate that nurses possess the highest level of trustworthiness in the healthcare industry due to their strong ethical values and sincerity.
Nurses lead by example by remaining physically active and motivating their patients and family members to adopt healthy lifestyle habits.
So, to promote better healthcare practices, nurses can stimulate healthy competition among their peers. This can be accomplished by organizing friendly contests with coworkers, where the winner is the one who assists the most patients each day or has the highest step count at work. This benefits the patients and enables the nurses to exercise physically while performing their duties.
Increase the Intensity of Your Mundane Activities
Healthcare experts believe that increasing your heart rate steadily helps you fight off various healthcare problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and much more. It can also improve your mood, help you lose weight, and strengthen your bones and muscles.
So, to challenge yourself, try performing daily activities at a higher intensity, such as using stairs instead of elevators at work. This can provide an intense, fat-burning workout. You can also try taking two steps simultaneously instead of one for a tougher workout. However, be cautious, as high-intensity activities can sometimes cause accidents.
Ultimately, you should be able to maintain a conversation while performing activities at a higher intensity. If this is not the case, go for an intensity that works well for you.
Maximize Your Travel to Work
An easy way to remain healthy and fit is to find ways to maximize the health benefits you get from your daily travel to work. For those who live close to their workplace, consider riding a bicycle instead of driving a car. However, if driving is necessary, park your car farther away from your workplace and walk the rest.
If you prefer public transport, get off at the stop that's a few kilometers away from work and walk the rest of the distance.
To make it more intense, pick up the pace and walk faster. With these simple exercises, nurses can maintain their health and fitness while commuting to work every day. It's an easy and effective way to keep fit without sacrificing extra time for workouts.
Prepare Your Meals in Advance
If you go to the hospital or clinic cafeteria for lunch daily, you will have to spend your nurse break times running to and from the cafeteria and waiting in line to eat. This will reduce your break time and increase your chances of consuming unhealthy foods.
Furthermore, research shows that your mood is directly affected by your diet. Therefore, skipping food breaks, not taking enough omega 3-fatty acids, reducing carb intake, and eating fewer calories than required will make you feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
So, to make the most of your breaks, carry some healthy snacks containing lean meats, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Moreover, instead of sugary drinks like juices, prepare fresh fruit juice and take it to work with you. That way, you can enjoy nutritious food items while your colleagues keep snacking on candy bars and sugary drinks from vending machines.
The Final Words
Staying fit and healthy is paramount, regardless of your job type. However, focusing on your health is far more important in nursing than in any other profession. After all, this profession demands significant physical, emotional, and mental effort, as other people's lives are in your hands.
So, never say no to physically demanding work-related activities, eat a healthy diet, and stay on your feet as much as possible. This can be important when performing and giving your 100% while working as a nurse.