10 fitness hacks for nurses to try

Climbing up stairs
iStock Photo/Thinkstock

Fitness, wellness, in shape, good condition…the list of terms is endless, but all of them fall under the same umbrella of the definition of health. Give it whatever label you like; I’m sure we nurses all would love to live in a world where we have ample time to increase our level of fitness and improve our overall health. And regardless of who we are, every nurse out there can afford to move more and eat better.

Time management is nothing new to us. Sacrifice is nothing new to us. Discipline is something we practice on a daily basis. These three things are the only tools you need. It’s the discipline that separates us. Remember, discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most. I thought I’d share 10 simple fitness “hacks” that can help you improve your current level of health.

  1. Take the stairs. Move more. It’s really that simple. Take the time and make the effort to avoid the elevator at work as often as possible. Simple. Easy. And quite effective.
  2. Don’t bring any cash or debit to work. Extra cash is just an opportunity to spend it. Of course, make sure you have that “emergency” fund when the time arises, but save your darn money. Ninety-nine percent of any food product you purchase at work is not what you would consider a “healthy” choice.
  3. Take the long way, every time. Move more (see the trend?). No matter where your destination may be, take the “scenic” route. Move more, expend more energy, increase your heart rate, etc.
  4. Park your car further away. Move more (are you getting my point?). Bundle up and dress accordingly, but start moving more.
  5. Get some sleep. This is the one area of our health that we as nurses really stink at achieving. You need sleep. And you need lots of it. Even if it’s done in small chunks (schedule permitting). You need the rest. It’s how your body changes, how it grows, how it strengthens.
  6. Demand healthier gifts. Why is it that every excuse for a celebration brings the carb-loaded, sugar-laden munchies out of the woodwork? Start demanding healthier gifts, darn it! Your health is just as important as your patients’ health.
  7. Steer clear of the crap food. Wherever you find it. Whether in the break room, nurses’ station, gift shop, vending machine, colleagues’ packed lunches or the cafeteria. Avoid the temptation. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
  8. Bring your own food to work. The solution to all your woes. Bring the right kind of food and you won’t be tempted to eat the wrong kind from the vending machines at 3 AM. That said, don’t you dare start bringing an unlimited supply of those “low-calorie healthy” substitute foods. Quantity matters just as much as quality. Remember: You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.
  9. Plan ahead. We all do a great job of planning and anticipating the “unexpected.” Start doing the same thing about your own health, your own food choices and your own exercise habits. If you know you’re a sucker for doughnuts, for example, avoid them. At the very least, decide on a limit. You gotta start somewhere.
  10. Recruit help. There is strength in numbers. Going into battle unarmed and alone is the quickest recipe for failure. Recruit help from family, friends, colleagues. Heck, hit up your unit director, the CNO. The sky’s the limit on this one.

These fitness “hacks” are just that—suggestions on how to break down your day into manageable parts. Pick your battles wisely, and start small. You’d be surprised how quickly tiny victories can pile up and become major accomplishments. Best of luck out there!

Care to add any other fitness hacks for your fellow nurses out there?

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