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4 life changes you must make for your health

Health_PreventionBy increasing your movement, you can change your life. And I have four simple steps that can help get you there.

As a former RN, I know the time constraints and stress placed on nurses. Yes, we’re always on the move, whether working on a floor at the hospital or driving around seeing patients in home health. But this “on the move” doesn’t necessarily translate to better health. We spend time taking care of everyone else-our kids, spouse, parents and, of course, our patients. But how can we take care of ourselves?

In a series of articles called “How You Live,” I’m going to give you some practical tips on how to care for yourself at work and in life. And as a nurse, you know that any step you take to care for your body, from the most trivial (kegels at your desk) to the most major (quitting smoking), can be the best prevention for illness.

This “How You Live” article is about how you move. When you concentrate on your movements, you can turn mundane tasks like sitting at your desk into exercise throughout your day. Exercise is not only essential for us physically, but mentally as well. It can help release stress and give us mental clarity.

Here are some ways that you can increase your movement:

  • Use a pedometer. See how many steps per day you’re taking. Aim for 10,000 steps.
  • Using ankle weights can also add a challenge and resistance. Put them on for 20 to 30 minutes and then take them off. They’re easy to transport and can be taken on and off easily.
  • Flex bands are also very portable. Keep them in your break room/office or car. There are numerous ways to use them. The different colors determine the resistance. They can also be used to stretch through the day.
  • If you sit at a desk, using a stability ball as your chair forces you to sit upright and use your abdominal muscles (core). It keeps you from hunching over your desk or computer and can help improve your posture. There are actually chairs made with stability balls.

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Laura McElroy

Laura McElroy, CPT, RN, spent her early adult years as an RN, working in areas including oncology, med-surg and home health. Her love of teaching—and also seeing firsthand the chronic illnesses created by unhealthy living—led her to teach health and fitness (preventative medicine). Laura is a certified personal trainer, teaches boot camps and has clients ranging in age from 25 to 80. A wife and a mother of two sons, she is in the process of becoming Stott Pilates certified.
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