Working a 10-hour shift at the hospital leaves little room for exercise. Although nurses spend every day helping patients achieve their health goals, it's often hard to focus on personal health. There are times when it's easier to grab a quick lunch from the vending machine than prepare a healthy meal at home, or perhaps that long shift leaves you too exhausted for any other activities.
Not everyone needs to spend hours at the gym in order to be healthy. Each person has his or her own preferred exercise method.
Nurse health challenges
In addition to limited time, nurses may also have limited meal options at work. In larger organizations there might be healthy options at the cafeteria – but at smaller facilities where resources are tight, you might be lucky to find a vending machine stocked with healthy treats.
In many cases, nurse health issues spring from a lack of support. Mental health issues may arise from stress at work, and that too can lead to physical problems such as obesity. That's why the American Nurses Association declared 2017 the Year of the Healthy Nurse.
If it seems like you're too busy to workout, it's a good idea to discover your preferred exercise style.
If you're set on going to the gym, you must go in with a strategy. Often, gym-based exercise regimens fail because of a lack of a plan. Instead of simply heading to the first empty machine you see, develop a plan of attack before leaving home.
Start by deciding what you want to focus on, such as heart health or core strength. Then, get online and find some pre-designed exercise routines for your skill level. You may find some great core exercises with diagrams explaining proper form. Before using a new machine, always ask about proper form and start with a weight that's not too difficult. You can always work your way up.
If you don't know where to begin, an exercise class is a perfect way to get started. Classes offer structure and social support that you can't often find in other settings. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, there are four main types of classes: Cardiorespiratory, strength, mind/body and specialty. Here are some examples of each:
- Cardiorespiratory: Kickboxing, cycling, step-aerobics.
- Strength: Resistance training, strength training.
- Mind/body: Pilates, yoga.
- Specialty: Swing dancing, self defense.
If you're tired of spending all of your time indoors, look for outdoor classes when the weather is nice. Yoga in the park can build strength and flexibility while boosting your mood!
If you're a self-starter, working out at home could be right for you. Plus, it's infinitely customizable. You may prefer a minimalist body weight workout or you could grab a few small pieces of equipment like ankle weights and barbells for more rigorous activity.
For inspiration and a helping hand, check out YouTube for free instructional videos to get started. You can piece together a regimen that's perfectly customized to your needs. For an example, check out the video below:
Sports and hobbies
Sometimes, exercising for the sake of getting fit isn't very motivating. Even if you know you need to exercise, working up the energy to actually do it can still be difficult. Sports and intense hobbies like jogging, climbing, biking and hiking are fun and give you a chance to connect to other like-minded individuals. Plus, when you work out with friends, you'll have someone to motivate you when you feel tired.
Try out a few different exercise styles to find one that fits you. Encourage your peers to get fit with you and you'll be more likely to reach your goals.