I get it, I get it: you can’t subscribe to that Zumba class on every Wednesdays because you never know if you’re going to work on that day or not, or if you’re going to work a 12 hour shift or be passed out in your bed post working a night shift…
And you find it hard to establish a routine workout week because of the same reason: an irregular schedule.
I feel your pain, trust me, I’m also dealing with the same issue.
But at this point we only have 2 options: either we give up, and don’t workout because of “this and that”, or we make it work!
And I choose the latter.
For many reasons.
Healthcare providers are already stressed out by the physical and psychological demands of the work they do, so they NEED a way to evacuate all that bad energy, and working out is one of the best ways to do so.
A lot of us don’t have this “perfect diet” thing going on. Nutrition is an extremely important part of healthy living, but exercising is too… So instead of having 0/2, let’s at least get a 50% for healthy living!!
Like I mentioned in one of my previous blog post, nurses are at increased risk of developing diseases like breast cancer, but also chronic conditions such as back pain , foot pain, and so on. All these risks can be reduced if we take the time to incorporate exercise in our weekly schedules.
But when are we to exercise? What’s the best time to exercise for irregular shift workers?
So here are 5 tips to try to get fit and exercise regularly.
Tip #1: Make Your Primary Gym at Home
For a lot of us, working out means subscribing to a gym. It doesn’t have to be so. You don’t NEED to subscribe to a gym facility to remain active. Your home/appartement could very do the trick. If you can find a designated area that would be your workout zone it would be best, but again it’s not a necessity. You can do video workouts, or simply go on YouTube and choose video workouts you like, create a playlist and do these exercises when you’ve got a 20-30 minutes to yourself. If there’s absolutely no space at home, consider going out, jogging/walking or simply work out in a park. The options are limitless!
Tip #2: Work Out BEFORE Work Rather than After
We have to be real on this one: after a busy 12-hour shift or a double 16-hour shift, we ain’t going nowhere… So stop trying to fool yourself saying you’ll hit the gym after work. It’s not going to work, unless you’re really minded and disciplined about it. That’s why working out before your shift is an option to consider. This way, you’ll have enough energy to work out, and you will HAVE to find the energy to get through your day. But by doing so, you’re putting yourself and your health first. And for those who worry about being drained at the end of the day, it’s very well possible. But your early workout does not have to be the full muscle pumping session. It could be running for 15 minutes, or treadmill for 20 minutes, or even lifting but for a little amount of time.
Tip #3: How About an Extra Walk on Your Break?
I work in ER, and on average, on the days I work, I take at least 10,000 steps, which is already great. When I want to push it a bit further, on my evening break, I go for a 10 min walk around the hospital. But let’s be real for a minute: sometimes, it’s the last thing I want to do, since my feet hurt and are sore. And that’s where the importance of having a good pair of nursing shoes comes in. It makes a world of a difference. There are many apps available to track the amount of steps you take everyday. Download one and see how far you can go!
Tip #4: Use whatever You Can…At Work
I’ve heard of a lot of people who actually do this: when they go to the restroom, they got in one that is spacious enough and do squats, lunges and wall sits. Some of them even do push-ups using the sink counter. I know it’s a struggle for nurses to actually GO to the washroom, but this example is there to say that you need to get creative about exercising, and that nothing is impossible if you’re dedicated!
Tip #5: Workout After a Night Shift
When I’m in my rotation of night shifts, I like to rush to the gym right after my shift. I usually do that only when I worked an 8 hour-shift. It’s the best time to exercise. I find I still have enough strength to pull through and hit the gym. Then I head home, take a nice shower and pass out on my bed. This is the only perk I found when working nights…Because generally you do less activities than during the day shift, you still have enough energy to do more before going to bed. And generally speaking, there’s no one at home after my night shift, so I sleep like a baby post relief of endorphin!
Tip #6: And on That Day Off…
It’s really tempting to say: “I’m so tired from the two 12-hour shifts I’ve done, this day off is my day to relax and not do anything”. You have to understand that you’re doing yourself a huge disfavor with that kind of thinking. The only body suffering from doing that will be yours. You have a full 24 hours off, you should make healthy physical activity a priority. I’m not saying you have to become a gym rat, but this day off is where you’ll find the best time to exercise and the perfect occasion to at least get a 30 minutes of active workout.
What has worked for you in the past? Please share with us! We’ll take all the help we can get on that subject!