Although we all face the obstacles of busy schedules, family commitments, and fatigue when it comes to finding time to work out, nurses are in a unique situation. They work long shifts, often at night, and have families to take care of in-between. Unfortunately, they have a great deal of work-related stress that just increases their need for the stress-busting exercise that they don’t have time for.
Many nurses are frustrated by the idea that a decent workout requires a gym membership, and an hour-long block of time. Most nurses simply don’t have that luxury. The good news is that you can get an excellent workout in just twenty minutes that will not only strengthen and energize your body, but will also help your mind to let go of the stress that you encounter on a daily basis.
Whether you’re feeling helpless and sad over the death of a patient, frustrated and angered by under-staffing and red tape, or just overwhelmed by everything on your plate there is a quick, effective workout for you.
The following routines can be customized to suit your mood and the type of stress that you are feeling. Simply combine the ten-minute strength training routine with any of the ten-minute stress-busters for a workout that meets your specific needs. You don’t need a gym or any expensive equipment. Some favorite CDs, an inexpensive resistance band, and a yoga or Pilates mat are all that you need. If you like, you can also use ten minute segments of your favorite workout DVDs for the dance or yoga sessions.
The Strength-Training Routine
Warm up: (Do each of the following three times)
- Gently stretch your neck by rolling your head forward, backward and to each shoulder.
- Clasp your hands high over your head, lock your elbows, and gently pull your arms back behind your ears, then forward again.
- Keeping hands clasped and elbows locked, bring your hands in front of you, slowly bend at the waist and reach as close to the floor as you can.
- With your arms stretched out to the sides, bend first to the left, then the right, then to the front.
- Keeping your arms out, raise on your toes, then down again.
- To finish, roll your shoulders forward and hold. Roll your shoulders back and hold.
Resistance Moves: (Do each of the following ten times)
- Standing on the center of your resistance band, wrap each end around your hands to desired tension. With your hands facing upward, curl your hands upward until you touch your chest. Release back down as slowly as possible.
- Staying on the band, bend over at the waist maintaining a flat, straight back, and turn your hands so that your palms face your body. Without locking your elbows, pull up and back as far behind you as is comfortable, release back down slowly.
- Step off of the band, bring your hands up in front of you and pull, spreading your hands toward the walls on either side of you. Release slowly.
- Sit on your mat, hold on to the handles, and place your feet in the center of the band and draw your knees to your chest. Using both feet, straighten your legs slowly and release slowly.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. Hook the center of the band around your knees. Focusing on your lower abs, raise your head just until your shoulders/shoulder blades leave the mat, keeping your lower back flat on the mat. Lower yourself again slowly.
Stress-Busters (Choose one of these workouts to do immediately following your strength training routine. Do ten minutes at a steady, safe pace.)
Yoga: To relax enough for sleep or release the tension of losing a patient.
Ballet Stretches and Barre Exercises or Pilates: To regain a feeling of control after a frustrating shift.
Hip-Hop, Latin or Swing Dance: To energize you for your shift and give you a mood boost for the rest of your day.
Power-Walking Outdoors: Another mood-booster, but especially good for you when you need to see measurable goals accomplished.
Jumping Rope: This is great cardio, but is an excellent way to work off anger and frustration so that you can be ready to face your family and the rest of your day.
Try these routines for a week and you’ll not only be encouraged by finding time to work out, but you’ll find it easier to transition between work and the rest of your life.