Night Shift? When do you exercise?

  1. So I've been working nights for two years now, and my general state of health has declined to a degree I never imagined possible. I'm always fatigued, my diet is lousy, I've gained 20 pounds, and I've gone from exercise fanatic to couch potato. I work 4 or 5 eight hour shifts a week, and on my days off pretty much do nothing but sleep and the bare minimum of household chores. My knees hurt, my back hurts, my head aches.

    I've been blaming my poor state of health on my body's inability to deal with my night shift schedule. Unfortunately I've had to come to terms with the realization that I will not be able to switch to days any time soon due to the economy and my hospital's hiring freeze.

    I want to start exercising again at the gym, but I'm not sure what time of day would be best. Should I go before work? It would not be convenient d/t having to cook dinner for my family. Exercising after work would fit in best with my schedule, but I'm worried that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep easily afterward. Nobody else on my unit's night shift seems to exercise at all, so I thought I'd ask here--

    Night shift nurses, when do you exercise? How often? What do you do for exercise? Has it helped you to deal with the physical strains of working nights? Any and all input would be appreciated!:redpinkhe
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    About Rabid Response

    Joined: Jan '08; Posts: 320; Likes: 929
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience in ICU/CCU


  3. by   bananabubbletea
    I am a full time mother/student and my daughter has had an awful sleeping schedule since last Sept. The majority of the time she sleeps all day and is up all night. I get less sleep than she does. On average I sleep from 8am-2pm or 12pm-5pm. If I wake up in the late afternoon the first thing I do is run to the gym. It is hard to get things done when you are sleeping most of the day. I have to add that your post is so insightful because being up all night is fatiguing even if you get a normal range of sleep. I constantly feel tired, have extra weight, cramps, aches etc.I feel guilty for eating dinner at 12am! Then i get hungry at 3am and 6am. I eat breakfast at 6am after being up all night then I sleep, wake up and have the equivalent to lunch. Anyway, as for a solution I would try and go to the nearest gym as soon as you wake up and go on your day off and get an exercise video and/or machine. Do the exercises at home and this will save you time. I reccomend Jillian Michaels 30 day shred because the workouts are only 20 minutes and better than nothing. Good luck with everything!
  4. by   Iheartadvice
    I'm a night shift nurse as well, and there's a whole thread on here about stats of poor health with our shift! I just try to get out and walk at the beach or at a park, absorb some Vit-D too and try to not feel like a vampire.
  5. by   chexycat
    I would highly recommend a yoga routine. There is am and pm yoga so depending on when you find your 20 minutes to put your exercise time in you can be assured of two things:

    1. am- you will be energized and ready for the day
    2. pm- you will be relaxed and ready for some sleep

    I highly suggest Gaiam- am/pm Yoga videos. Just google Gaiam.

    As Iheartadvice stated, get some walking into your schedule too morning or evening to add to your cardio side.

    Cheers to your health!
  6. by   drew9319
    we have a gym in the basement. i go running for 30 mins then shower and come back to work. if i have a heavy patient load and cant do that, i run for 4-5 miles as soon as i get off. the perimiter of our hospital has a 2 mile walking trak that i run around 2 -3 times every morning that i get off. you just have to make time.
  7. by   nerdtonurse?
    When do I exercise? Running to codes...

    Seriously, I did karate for years until I tore up my knee. Now, I practice a kata (can either be very energetic or more like tai chi, depending on what I feel like/which one I do).

    I also download the exercise mixes for my ipod, put in my earbuds, and tear up the floor in the den -- there are advantages to working out when everyone else is asleep, there's nobody to laugh and say, "what on EARTH are you doing? Are you having a seizure...?"
  8. by   RedhairedNurse
    Your post sounds like something I could have written myself. I too was a
    gym nut until night shift broke my routine. I also gained 20. I bought an
    exercise machine for my home thinking it would help, but no can do.

    I don't have the energy. On my days off I want to sleep and rest. Maybe with summer coming up, I can try to make the time.
  9. by   nurse_mo1986
    Hiya...just thought i'd put in my 2 cents worth. I work three 12 hour nights a week. I go to the gym after i get off work at 7 am and go straight to gym. It works out best for me and then i'm ready to go home, take a quick shower and hit the hay for a good eight hours b/f starting all over again. It works just fine, and i have no probs. anyways...good luck, and trust me you'll feel much better if you just bite the bullet and get back in there
  10. by   Lady Shmoe
    I sigh as I write this response because I am in your boat with you. I have put on so much weight, started smoking again, hurt like the devil after my shifts, and am too pooped to do anything put sleep/eat/go to the bathroom on my days off. Hey, even my dog as put weight on because I don't walk him anymore. (He used to get at least 2 or 3 walks a day a couple of years ago.)

    If I were to exercise I wouldn't do it before work because then I'd be tired. I wouldn't do it during work because I don't even have time to use the bathroom during my shift. I wouldn't do it after work because I only want to get home and wash off the night's encounters. The last thing I want to do is get hot and sweaty with patient cooties all over me.

    That leaves option #3: exercise on my days off. Perhaps, maybe, I will force myself to start my waking hours of a day off by walking my dog. It probably wouldn't hurt to look for a gym. I think we just got a new 24 hour gym in town.

    Four days with an exercise of some sort beats no exercise at all.

    As for diet, egads... that is a whole other thread. What nurses DO eat healthy?
  11. by   madnurse2b
    Not much help here - I love nights, even in my previous career. Plus living in Las Vegas I used to go to the gym at midnight because it was empty, even on my days/nights off. Actually come to think of it - I've been less active since I've been on a day shift....hmmmm
  12. by   madnurse2b
    Oh - let me also admit it was 105 yesterday so I might be biased to nights on that count too
  13. by   Cobweb
    That study they did that showed that 10-minute sections of exercise 3 times a day was just as good as 30 minutes at a stretch was a godsend to me. I'm a fitful sleeper, so I just jump on my exercise bike any time I get a few extra minutes a day, every time I think of it. That's helped a lot. No way do I feel like exercising an hour at a time any more, but I can always talk myself into 5 minutes...then 5 more minutes the next time I get up...etc. I keep hand weights laying around everywhere too.
  14. by   Chewie_123
    I like nights. I do yoga and tai-chi. Plus, I live within 40 minutes from the hospital on foot and force myself to walk home after at least 1 shift a week. Its actually a nice thinking/relaxing time, and I'm definatly ready to shower and go straight to bed.