5 easy while-you-work exercises to keep nurses fit
Nurses are experts at maximizing their time. So what can you do when you want a workout…but won’t be able to make it to the gym?
Here are five activities that’ll keep you fit, burn a ton of extra calories and help you turn your workplace into a fitness center!
Walking: OK. Speed Walking: Excellent
Here’s the good news: As a nurse, you are on your feet and moving around more than any other professional, and some estimates say that the average nurse will walk at least three miles during an average shift. That’s incredible!
But, here’s the bad news: It might not make a difference.
Unless you’re getting your heart rate up, walking doesn’t really burn many calories. So when you’re moving from room to room, make sure your back is straight, your shoulders are squared and pick up the pace! Find a long hallway and incorporate it into your rounds. Remember, the faster you move, the better the benefits!
RUN the Stairs
Just like walking, taking the stairs is a great way to burn a few extra calories. But the sad truth is, if you’re not treating the stairs like an exercise machine, you might not be getting any benefit.
So if you’ve got two or three minutes, RUN the stairs. Make it a workout. Set your phone and see how long it takes you to climb three or four flights, and see if you can whittle your time down on successive tries. Do three reps and get your heart beating. Remember–walking the stairs is good, but running them is excellent.
Transform Your Desk into a Workout Machine
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself at your desk for a minute–or if you pass by a desk and nobody’s there!–take 30 or 45 seconds and bang out the following exercises:
- Dips. Put your bum on the edge of the desk, and rest your palms on the edge of the desk about an inch away from your thighs. Gently lower yourself down and push yourself up again, and repeat as many times as you can in the time you’ve given yourself. Great for your triceps and shoulders.
- Desk Push-Ups. Place your palms down on the edge of the desk, take a step back and lower yourself down. The closer you can get your chest to the desk, the better the exercise. Great for your chest and arms.
- Side Push-Ups. Same idea as the desk push-up, but instead of using both arms to push yourself up, you will use one arm, and your body will be pointing to the side of the desk. Side push-ups are an incredible exercise, and no matter how fit you are, you’ll feel it working immediately!
Remember, exercise doesn’t have to last a long time to be great for you. It’s kind of inspiring to think that in less than a minute, you can do something good for your health!
Quick note–with all of these, you’ll want to make sure the desk is stable before starting!
Another super-simple exercise that only takes you a few minutes and you can do anywhere. Learn a few basic stretches and incorporate them into your daily routine. They may not get your heart pumping, but stretches reduce the risk of injury–and given the high number of nurses who develop back, knee and foot problems, injury prevention is a worthwhile activity!
Quick Fitness Break in the Stairwell
If you want to fit a mini-workout into your work routine, the stairwell is your best friend. If you can spend three or four minutes doing the following exercises, you’ll be well on your way to better health and a better physique:
- Lunges. If you were to do walking lunges down a hallway, you’d look a little crazy. That’s why stationary lunges in the stairwell are perfect. Bend your front knee to 45 to 90 degrees, and then when ready, jump and switch legs mid-air.
- Roman Chairs. Find a wall, place your back flat against it and settle down into a sitting position. A half-minute of a Roman Chair and your quadriceps will be feeling the heat!
- One-Foot Lifts. Grab the stair railing with your hand and lift one foot. Push yourself onto your tippie-toes on your standing foot. Bonus points if you can let go of the rail and use your balance!
Finally, Use Your Time Wisely!
Five minutes of focused, intense cardio can be better than an hour of goofing off at the gym. The secret is to make work-workouts a priority, and do them during every shift. Exercise makes you happier, healthier and feel great–so don’t deny yourself!
Matthew Morris is a clinical therapist and a hospital administrator, and runs a site dedicated to helping people become nurse assistants. If you need to contact him, you can check the stairwell, where he’s probably doing Roman Chairs.