If you’re a nurse who’s on her feet all day, you may wonder: Shouldn’t all this activity burn some extra calories? Since nurses often move continually over an eight- to ten-hour shift, it would seem every nurse would look like Linda Hamilton in Terminator II! However, being active on your feet all day, which is a low level of effort intensity, is a different ball game from exercising at a moderate to higher level of intensity.
If you’re trying to shed extra pounds, dynamic results require exercising regularly at a higher intensity. The following are some effective, useful and easy-to-do exercises I’ve created specifically for nurses that will transform your daily routine into one that busts some extra calories! Fit these exercises into your day individually, in combinations and alternately—whatever your specific schedule allows!
Exercise at Home
When you’re done with your shift, you may feel like flopping down on the couch. Here are some ways to get your metabolism going while you’re taking a break.
(1) Put down the remote. Whenever you watch TV or listen to music at home, leave the remote control on the shelf and control everything by hand. By forcing yourself to stand up and walk a few steps each time you change the channel or adjust the volume, you can build important bursts of movement into your most sedentary activities.
(2) Wash the car. When it’s time to wash the car, do a U-turn at the local automatic car wash and do it yourself! Initially, you may want to try pay-as-you-go car washes that allow you to use equipment similar to the automatic systems, but I encourage you to walk around the car and stretch your muscles. If you want to devote more time to washing your car, you can buy the necessary products and work from home. In either case, you’ll benefit from both the financial savings and the addition of exercise to your routine. You’ll probably clean your car better than the automated systems ever could anyway!
(3) Flex your muscles when sitting down. Whether you’re relaxing at home or sitting behind your desk at work, there are a number of simple exercises you can perform without standing up. When seated, try to flex and release both your abdominal and gluteus muscles. Even when you don’t have a chance to move, squeeze in these isotonic exercises to help your fitness regimen.
(4) Stretch in your free time. If you have a little more space to stretch your muscles, devote some time to simple movements that can improve your flexibility. Whether you choose to stretch your arms, legs or entire body, simple stretching movements are the perfect addition to those moments of relaxation time.
Exercise While Commuting
No matter what form of transport you take, there are exercises you can do. Here are some of the best commuting exercise ideas:
(5) Be an early riser. Before you consider how you’re going to get to work, go for a 20- to 30-minute jog, bike ride or swim. You have the most energy in the morning and you can feel good knowing that you’ve done more before 7 a.m. than most people will do all day. If you can, do this with your partner or a friend who will keep you motivated.
(6) Park far away. If you really must commute by car, get to work a few minutes early so you have time for a longer walk from the car park. When you arrive, park as far away as possible from your place of work and briskly walk the distance. If you take the farthest parking space, the extra walk will rack up those all important steps. You may have an easier exit at the end of the day as well. If you can’t park farther away, then walk around the building twice.
(7) Ride a bike or walk. Not only are biking and walking recession-busting forms of transport, but by throwing exercise into the mix, you kill the commuting and fitness birds with one stone! Combining exercise with something you have to do anyway—getting to work—means you’re more likely to keep it up. Walk or take a bike to work whenever possible. You could even cycle all or part of the way, then take public transportation. You get the benefit of a ride in the morning and again on the return home, and you’re helping to save the planet and hard-earned cash by leaving the car resting comfortably in your driveway.
(8) Plan ahead. If traveling by tube/subway/metro/train, find out how far it is to the bus or train station from your home and hospital. You can use this trip for exercise by jogging or power walking to the bus or train.
(9) Keep active. Employ brisk walking between station or platform changes. Take the stairs more frequently or whenever possible instead of escalators or lifts; use your legs with each step by taking two steps at a time. Stand whenever you’re traveling, hold the rail with one hand and slightly lift a foot off the floor. Switch arms and feet with each station stop. You’ll challenge your core balancing muscles, legs and arms.
Exercise at Work
What with all that standing and walking, you’re getting plenty, right? Well, it may not be enough. Here are more ideas.
(10) Message in person. At work, try to communicate with your colleagues face-to-face as much as possible. Instead of using the phone or email to send a message, simply walk to your coworker’s desk or office. Not only will you earn valuable steps throughout the day, but you might start a trend in your workplace.
(11) Move with the phone. When on the phone at home or work, try to pace up and down or do a short series of exercises like calf raises and squats. If you’re using a mobile phone or a cordless handset, you shouldn’t have any trouble taking a few steps back and forth. Walk up and down the stairs for a higher calorie burn. If using a corded handset, try marching on the spot with your knees high.
(12) Stair walk & “sidestep” stair walk. Walk up and down a few flights of stairs several times. You can increase the intensity by taking two stair steps at a time. This will “fire up” your thighs and buttock muscles to make them work harder. For sidestepping, start walking sideways up first! First walk a whole flight of stairs with your right side leading, then swap over sides for the next flight of stairs. When you reach the top, do the same again on the descent.
Remember, whether you’re having a good or bad day in the hospital, any sort of exercise will make you feel better. A few minutes of exercise will refresh concentration and relieve muscles. So break up your workday to include some or all of these simple exercises. It all leads to a more productive and healthier you!
Please note: Consider your hospital’s health and safety regulations when doing any of these workplace exercises.
For people suffering from health problems, be sure to consult your physician before engaging in any kind of exercise.
Cornel Chin is a ”Fitness Troubleshooter to the Stars” with more than 20 years of experience as a fitness professional. As a fitness expert, his unique skills have been highly sought after by “A”-list celebrities. Cornel is also a contributor to a host of leading international publications and websites, a frequent guest on numerous television and radio shows, and a published author of several popular fitness books, which are endorsed by his famous clients. His latest book, Celebrity Body on a Budget, is now available in bookstores and online (amazon.co.uk). His website is cmcfit.co.uk.