Depending on your position, you may get a lot of exercise during your shift. All that walking, bending over, and moving equipment can burn a lot of calories. Still, there may be times working as a nurse sabotages your fitness resolution. Between the lure of breakroom snacks, stress eating, and long hours, it can be difficult to focus on fitness. It can even be tougher for nurses who work overnight shifts, but there are things you can do to stick to your fitness resolutions.
> Try the Buddy System
Do you have a co-worker who also wants to lose weight, eat healthier, or get fit? Chances are you do, so buddy up and work on your goals together. Better yet, make it a group effort. Gather up several coworkers and set fitness goals together. Having other people at work who are trying to get fit will help you successfully stick to your resolution. Your co-workers can provide motivation, support, and help keep you in check when you’re about to go on a cookie binge.
> Challenge Yourself
Depending on how big your facility is, you may do a lot of walking. One way to challenge yourself is set a goal of walking a specific number of steps each day. There are lots of ways to keep track of how many steps you’re taking, from apps on your phone to pedometers you wear. Having a goal to work towards may motivate you to take the long way around when possible.
> Be a Little Sneaky
While doing lunges down the hall or squats in a patient’s room may get you a fast pass to your supervisor’s office, there are ways to sneak in a little exercise during your shift without looking silly. For example, perform some isometric holds while washing your hands or completing charting.
Isometric are toning exercises that involve holding a muscle contraction without moving the joint or changing the length of the muscle. Instead, they are done in a static position. The great thing about isometrics is you can do them almost anywhere. For example, while sitting in a chair, tighten your abs and hold the contraction for about ten seconds. Release and repeat a few times.
Performing a few bodyweight exercises is also another way to sneak in a little exercise throughout your shift. You don’t need a lot of space or any special equipment to do a set or two of bodyweight exercises. Consider doing a few squats when you go to the supply room or perform calf raises while getting medications.
> Add in Mini-Fitness Bursts
Running to a code blue or doing CPR is not the only way to get your heart rate up at work. Keep in mind, exercise does not have to be an all or nothing type of thing. If you can’t spend time doing long workouts, you may be able to fit in small bursts of exercise throughout your shift. For instance, if you need to head to another part of the hospital, pick up the pace and make it a power walk.
Another way to add a burst of exercise is by running up the stairs. Why wait for the elevator when you can run up a few flights of stairs? Not only will you get a burst of cardio in, but you’ll tone your quads a bit.
> Get Resourceful
Your place of employment may have resources, which can help you with your fitness goals. Many hospitals have gyms, which are used for cardiac rehabilitation or physical therapy. Find out if employees have access to use the facilities when classes are not in session. It may make working out during your breaks or before work easier.
> Plan Ahead
Fitness is about making choices. It’s easier to make the right choices if you do a little planning before your shift. A well-rounded plan is essential if you’re going to stick to your resolutions. Fitness is not only about exercise, but it’s also about eating right and getting enough rest. Pack a healthy meal and snack to bring to work, which will provide you the energy you need to get through your workday and avoid unhealthy eating.
> Stay the Course
When it comes to sticking to a fitness resolution, sometimes it is mind over matter. For example, don’t tell yourself that eating donuts in the staff room is OK this one time or try to convince yourself you’ll take the stairs starting tomorrow. Start now!
Keep in mind, making a fitness resolution is easy. The hard part is sticking to it. It’s not uncommon to have a day (or week) where fitness is forgotten. There may be times you just need to make it through your shift and your fitness goals take a back seat.
If you want results, you need to put in the effort at home and at work. If you mess up once in a while, don’t call it quits. Instead, get back on track the next day and just keep on working towards your goals.