4 Exercises to Wake Yourself up During a Long Shift

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After years of medical training and a career helping people manage their own well-being, you would think the average nurse would be healthy, right? As jarring as the image may be, surveys indicate that up to 60 percent of nurses are overweight or obese. Though it’s hard to maintain healthy habits and a busy workload, it’s time to stop using our careers as an excuse for our decisions. If your schedule doesn’t allow you enough time to exercise when you’re off work, bring the gym to your hospital. These four bodyweight exercises will get your blood pumping, wake you up, and get you on the road to a healthier future.

1. Standing Abs

As a nurse, you know how important a strong core is. With all the bending and lifting you perform in the course of a shift, the firm foundation provided by well-trained abs can protect your back and your livelihood. Begin with your hands behind your head with elbows out. Alternate knees up, getting as close as possible to the opposite elbow.

Pro tip: Vary this exercise to work your obliques by widening your stance and bringing the right leg to meet the right elbow, then alternate on the left.

2. Jumping jacks

It would be tough to find an easier way to sneak some cardio into your day than with jumping jacks. They require no equipment and just a bit of space. If you’re not in the best cardiovascular condition, start with just thirty seconds or so, working up to five minutes or so. Rather than going beyond five minutes, repeat the exercise several times throughout your shift.

Pro tip: If you prefer to avoid the full impact of a full jumping jack, consider the step jack. The motion is similar but involves stepping to alternate sides rather than jumping. It may take a bit longer to get your heartrate up, but it’s easier on your joints.

3. Squats

By activating the largest muscle groups in your body, squats are among the best ways to awaken your metabolism and start burning calories. You can adjust the difficulty either by resting your hands-on a nearby object to make things easier or, if you’re ready to turn it up a notch, doing one-legged squats.

Pro tip: If you’re looking to build muscle that fits your body goals or to work specific muscles, the position of your feet while you do squats is what makes a difference. A simple guideline is pointing your toes outward will work the muscles of the inner thigh, while pointing your toes further inward actives the outer thigh muscles.

4. Lunges

Keep your hamstrings limber by working your quads. Lower body exercises burn more calories by engaging your larger muscles. Additionally, they increase your blood flow, which can make you more alert, even toward the end of a long shift.

With work, your health and your personal life all topping your list of priorities, keeping track of your important nursing documents shouldn’t weigh on your mind. That’s why we made the Nurse Backpack app; to track all your nursing credentials so you can focus on what matters most.