How to create an exercise plan for nurses

  1. So many people ask “what should I do for a workout?” and get stuck at this point. This article will discuss how to create an exercise plan to fit your needs. The goal is to focus on the full body workouts and to keep it simple when starting off. It can be challenging to find time for exercise due to other obligations such as nursing schedules, but this article provides helpful tips around that.

    How to create an exercise plan for nurses

    First and most importantly you need to go into exercise planning with a positive, open mindset. I always tell nurses, what you put into exercising is what you will get out of it. Having a positive mindset is half the battle, especially if you are stepping outside your comfort zone. You have to be willing and ready to make changes in your lifestyle to experience all the benefits of exercising. Consistency is key to maintaining an exercise plan. Stay flexible and do not get down on yourself. If you miss a workout shake it off, no one is perfect we are all human. Just do not let that one day turn into a week. Also do not get frustrated if your exercise plan is not working. One of the great things about exercising is that there are endless options and things to try. Exercises can be modified to all skill levels.
    When creating an exercise plan you need to consider a variety of factors that will impact your plan such as your schedule, what style of exercising you prefer, your current fitness level and where you will be performing your exercise. The important thing is to figure out what works best for you! Don't forget to write down your fitness goals and what you want to get out of it, make sure your goals are realistic and achievable! Another area to evaluate is what kind of fitness program you want to complete. Some examples of different programs include gym training programs, at home workouts, cardio workouts, strength programs, and circuit training programs.

    When designing your fitness plan ask yourself... do you have more energy in the morning or night? Do you prefer working out before or after your shift? Would you rather work out on your own, with a personal trainer or in a group/class setting? Where do you want to work out? At home? At a gym? How much time can you devote to exercising? Whether you can do an hour or 20 minutes every other day, find what works best for you and your schedule. Whatever your time commitment is, figuring out how to maximize your time is key for nurses. After answering these questions you can now begin building your exercise plan.
    Here is an example of how you can construct your own exercise plan...

    Begin by deciding what exercises you want to do. Unless you have been strength training for years, keep it simple when first starting off. Focus on the full body workouts. Start by doing your routine 2 to 3 times a week. Then as you feel comfortable increase to 3 to 4 times a week. The intention of the exercise plan is to work up to your ideal length and frequency over time to achieve your personal fitness goals.

    You can also look into expanding your exercise options as you start to master the basic movements. Begin by choosing 5 exercises from the categories below (again this is an example for people who do not have a lot of experience with working out). Target different muscle groups for your selected exercises such as quadriceps, hamstrings, abdomen, shoulders and biceps/triceps. Make sure to pick at least one exercise from each category when working out. Start off with 5 to 6 reps and repeat for 3 to 5 rounds for each exercise.
    Example Ideas (vary in skill level):

    *Some movements can be performed at bodyweight or with the barbell or dumbbell; Can do different variations of the movements for difficulty level

    • Quadriceps: squats, goblet squat, overhead squat, lunges, step ups, box jumps
    • Hamstrings: deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, good mornings, hip raises, lunges
    • Core (abdomen): planks, side planks, Russian twists, hanging leg raises, hollow rocks
    • Shoulders/Chest (pushing movements): pushups, dips, incline DB press, push press, overhead press
    • Biceps/Triceps/Back (pull movements): pull ups, ring rows, DB rows, lat pull down, bicep curls

    You are not limited to these movements listed above. These are just a few examples to help get you thinking. Focus on good form and proper technique for the exercises. Do not compromise form for more reps or heavier weights, this is how injuries occur and will not benefit your body.

    Remember to always warm up before exercising and do not forget to throw in some cardio to your workouts. Some examples of warm up activities are biking, rowing, running, stairs, jump roping and burpees. I like to do something called EMOMs for warm ups. EMOM stands for every minute on the minute. So a 10 minute EMOM means, every minute, on the minute for 10 minutes you do a certain exercise. Then the remainder of the minute you rest after the reps are completed. An example is that for 10 minutes you do 10 burpees at the top of every even minute and then at the top of every odd minute you do 20 air squats. Begin when the timer says 0:00 with the 10 burpees and then at 1:00 minute perform the 20 air squats. Continue until the 10 minutes is reached.

    If you are more experienced in the fitness world try doing circuits, intervals or track workouts to challenge yourself.

    Here are some helpful tips for nurses to consider when making an exercise plan:

    • In the nursing world it is extremely important to make exercising a priority on your days off.
    • Find a place to exercise that is close to your home or work.
    • Find a buddy to exercise with.
    • Schedule your workout days; mark them in your planner or on a calendar.
    • Do not go to the extremes, such as trying out the newest fad diet or exercising for 5 hours a day.
    • Set realistic goals. Identify what you want to achieve and pursue it.
    • Focus on your nutrition. Working in the fast paced environments in healthcare settings make it easy to want to grab the fast foods that are rich in fat, sodium and sugar. Try eating lean proteins, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Your body will thank you for this and will give you energy throughout your busy day.
    • Learn portion control and drink lots of water.
    • Eat a healthy breakfast every morning.
    • Pack a healthy lunch or dinner for work.
    • Bring healthy snacks to help fuel your body throughout your shift.

    Have a work life balance. Practice healthy relationships and get rid of the toxic ones. Make time in your schedule for leisure activities you enjoy and make time for friends and family.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14
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    I have been a registered nurse for four wonderful years now. Even before my nursing career I worked in healthcare for three years. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I thoroughly enjoy taking care of others and making patients smile. I am currently working in PACU full time, plus many call hours. Aside from work I enjoy exercising and practicing healthy eating habits to fuel my body.

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