The 3 biggest reasons why you should appreciate exercise as a nurse

Meet Nurul. The founder of FitNurse Co. and a Registered Nurse. 

Based at the Royal Prince Alfred in Sydney, she loves facing the challenges it brings on a daily basis. Between here shifts there, she is hustling on the side as a fitness coach where she inspires people to do and to feel their very best.

I am pretty lucky in a sense that I get to see both sides of the healthcare industry; where one involves looking after those experiencing illness and one that is helping to prevent the onset of illness. Ironically, it has been known that those who care for others tend to struggle to care for themselves, which is my greatest motivating factor in launching FitNurse Co.

If we encourage nurses to maintain their wellbeing, then the result also inspires the community to follow suit. Throughout my time at the hospital, a majority of my colleagues opened up about being inactive outside of work. Despite having government initiatives, such as Fitness Passport being made readily available, a lot of the programs do not generally understand what the nature of the job entails so it struggles to look after the holistic the well-being of the healthcare workers.

Investing my time for my fellow health professionals to be the best they can be…

Amongst us, you’ve probably heard one say “all this running around I do at work, I [shall] count this as exercise”. If this is you, I’m going to tell you why exercise is efficient in its own right and why it is more rewarding than the ones we “do at work’. After all, it is important that we find and create a separate space for ourselves where we can renew and refresh.

Take this scenario for example, by 10 AM, a nurse would have done their medication rounds including assessments, bed baths or showers and breakfast for their patients. Easily, the nurse would have hit 10,000 steps by then. Although the numbers seem highly commendable, ask yourself this:

● Were you aware of your body position when it comes to bending over during your patient assessments?
● Perhaps when you were lunging and reaching for that towel with one hand whilst the other is holding onto the patient to ensure he/ she is stable enough to stand on their own?
● Or maybe even from standing at the computer whilst documenting, were you aware of your posture?

Here are my top 3 takeaways as to why you should appreciate exercise as a nurse

Postural Awareness

Posture by definition is how the individual holds their shoulders, neck, and back in relation to their movement. Apart from contributing to a good appearance on the individual, a good posture has major benefits such as keeping the bones and joints correctly aligned so that our muscles are used much more efficiently, thus preventing unnecessary pain. This allows the body to conserve energy which I say is what we all need to get us through any shift.

TIP: pay attention to your posture the next time you walk into work, the next time you’re standing or sitting at a computer, the next time you take your patient’s assessment. Hold yourself up taller and stand with your chest proud, who else has got your back but you? See what I did there?

Decrease and manage pain

One that comes to mind is the fabled “nurses back”. That recurring back pain and related joint pain from poor posture and increasing workload can influence your ability to recover and manage these common issues. To have the ability to self-manage and prevent other injuries from occurring is given power for the individual to bounce back into action. First and foremost, understand that pain varies between individuals and that “my pain is not your pain”. However, through tailored exercise programs, individuals
learn to tolerate and respect their pain.

TIP: know what muscles to engage when in a certain position. That deadlift position you learnt at the gym? Perhaps the squats? Apply the concept to your daily tasks at work and feel the difference! Every chance you get to strengthen your muscles when performing your nursing tasks, do so as it will help you increase your proprioception. Work-life balance? See what I did there…?

Improves mood and mental health

Okay, I’m loving that these days, we are so much more aware of the importance of mental health. Exercise is known to improve your mood which is a tool we can use to enhance our mental clarity and ability to stay focused on what’s important during work. Let’s quickly highlight how exercise does its job. For one, feel-good hormones (endorphins and serotonin) are elevated. Two, this, in turn, helps you sleep better at night and re-energizes your body for the next shift. I got no puns here, just straight up facts.

To wrap it up, creating that time and space for you to habitualise these three practices will help you appreciate every little effort you have made towards self-care. I hope that I’ve convinced you to maintain your well-being to continue doing the things you are amazing at. Especially in this time of need, wishing you all the very best, stay safe and healthy. It may not be new information but a reminder that looking after yourself is not selfish, it is essential for us to carry out our duties well. It is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.

For more information on exercising tips for healthcare professionals, follow me on social
media @fitnurseco. YouTube and website launching soon!