How important is being physically fit in Nursing?


Hello to all :)

I'm currently in 11th grade high school and I made up my mind in taking Nursing as my major and will study in Kwantlen university in the future. Just wondering how important is being fit in Nursing? I'm not athletic at all and quite overweight, and I always had a hard time in P.E. classes. I'm actually glad that they don't mandate P.E. anymore until 11th grade. Is physical education mandatory in Nursing? I'm a male btw.

I've seen plenty of unfit nurses. That being said, I'm more likely to take health advice from someone who looks like they take their own health seriously. Physical fitness is a big part of this. Therefore, while in pre-nursing school, I am maintaining both healthy eating and a fitness regimen. I want to be an excellent example for my patients, and I also do it for myself! It's something that you really should start now while you're young! You may not like P.E., but there's something fitness related for everyone, whether it's pilates, running, strength training, or swimming. Find your love and own it! :-)

ashleyisawesome, BSN, RN

Specializes in LDRP.

you dont necessarily have to be a fitness guru or anything. i know plenty of overweight, as well as frail nurses and nursing students. you will need to be able to lift at least 50 lbs, you do a lot of lifting patients, often you have the help of another person, but they will expect you to lift your share of the weight and not put it all on them.. youll also be on your feet all day and running around like a nut, so it can be extremely tiring even if you are in great shape.

it wont hurt to do some strength training and try to shed some pounds/do some cardio to build your stamina for those long 8, 12 and sometimes 16 hour days of being on your feet, but by no means do you have to be a gym class hero.

if you are in a BSN program you may or may not have to take one semester of physical fitness, but usually they have fun options that are not your average gym class (ie. rock climbing, swimming, ballroom dancing, weight lifting etc). I havent come across an associates degree nursing program that requires a phys ed class but its possible.

good luck!

ps - i hated gym class too, i almost failed it in high school for not participating enough. ughhh.

Edited by ashleyisawesome

JROregon, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Infusion. Has 5 years experience.

I've seen overweight nurses at the hospitals where I do my clinicals but it is rare to find an obese or morbidly obese nurse at these hospitals. I feel sorry for a couple of older obese nurses I have seen who have arthritis and appear to really be struggling during a busy day. Just consider that you will be on your feet through most of your shift and when you do have a chance to sit to enter your documentation, you'll likely be interrupted and back on your feet again. I'm getting close to my 50s and for me it is imperative that I stay aerobically fit. I am hoping to do this job well into my 70s.

My associates degree requires 3 units of PE but as you said, that can include many types of classes, including 1 unit for my CPR class.

Edited by JROregon


Specializes in Psychiatry. Has 12 years experience.


You will weigh less when you are fit, so less wt on your knees and feet.

Healthier back/better posture

Ability to move pts easier, without straining (possibly your back).

overall greater sense of well-being, so a greater ability to tolerate stress

better stamina for 12 hr.. shifts..

and I could keep going!!

Music in My Heart

Specializes in being a Credible Source. Has 11 years experience.

I see a great many nurses who range from mildly obese to severely obese but they seem to manage (though their paces are sometimes limited).

When it usually catches up to them is if they remain at the bedside later in their careers when the joints start to manifest the results of the lifelong abuse.

I would counsel you not to simply give in to a life of obesity. You are not powerless.

Stcroix, ASN, RN

Specializes in cardiac-telemetry, hospice, ICU. Has 6 years experience.

This is an excellent question. Maybe it could be restated "How important is being physically fit in life?" As everyone pointed out, nursing is a physically demanding profession, especially if you work 'the floor'. The only thing I can add is when the time comes (as it often does several times a day) to move a patient, physically fit individuals are more likely to move the patient without hurting themselves or the patient.

Physical fitness is important for everything: wellness, job, hobbies, self-esteem, relationships, sex, you name it.

By the way, you don't have to be athletic to be healthy. Watch what you eat. Moderation is key. You can still eat not so healthy foods, but try to include some healthy ones in your diet that you like. Get up and move around. Walk, job, bike, swim, lift weights, yoga, do whatever you want to do. You don't have to be an athlete to do any of that stuff. It's all just moving your body. It'll be difficult at first but get past that barrier. Discomfort isn't permanent. You'll sweat. At first you'll likely be nauseated and feel like you'll pass out. Your muscles will be sore later. That all shall pass. To get rid of that weight you'll have to burn more calories than you consume. Just by living you burn some, but to burn more you need to increase your activity.

I used to lift weights a lot and run. Now I run, do P90X discs (finished the program as prescribed once), and do 100 situp and pushup apps on my Droid to stay conditioned. I never get time to go lift anymore, or at least I don't get the amount of time I would like to spend on gym membership.


Specializes in Student. Has 5 years experience.

In nursing you have to do a lot of lifting & turning of patience. I say y u r still in high school & during your begin course in college try to work on your body. u r still young & I believe u can loose quick. Good Luck!!!!!!! :nurse:

on eagles wings, ASN, RN

Specializes in SDU, Tele. Has 2 years experience.

Please don't give in to obesity. It is a terrible way to live. I am in no way obese or "fat" but I had friends who were and I felt awful for them. They couldn't do a lot of the stuff us more athletic girls could.

Now I am going to nursing school in the fall and even though I am not "fat", I am thick (Hispanic diet lol) and haven't gone to a gym since high school. I am cutting calories, cutting bread and rice, whole milk, etc.

I love food. I talk about food all the time. I cook everyday even though I don't have to. But I can't give in to it! Diabetes runs in my family and I can't let something so avoidable happen to me. It is your choice.

For example, I lovelovelove potatoes. Instead of of eating fries, maybe you could switch over to "zucchini fries". Instead of eating white bread(in my case, cuban bread), I make my sandwiches with whole grain sandwich thins. I am drinking almond milk. I am taking vitamins. I am taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Instead of sugary cereals for breakfast, I'll make a fruit smoothie or eat yogurt with a omelet stuffed with spinach.

There are countless things you could do to be healthier. Don't just do it for school, do it for your quality and quantity of life. You are too young to have that problem!

i've seen overweight nurses at the hospitals where i do my clinical (sp) but it is rare to find an obese or morbidly obese nurse at these hospitals. i feel sorry for a couple of older obese nurses i have seen who have arthritis and appear to really be struggling during a busy day. just consider that you will be on your feet through most of your shift and when you do have a chance to sit to enter your documentation, you'll likely be interrupted and back on your feet again.

sorry to disagree but the vast majority of nurses i interact with are classified by the bmi scale as obese or worse (yes including me). i can still move as needed and am often called to assist with any lifts on my floor; yes, i pull my own weight.

that being said i agree that you would be much better served to get yourself into better shape before you enter nursing school as the stress and lack of free time will only make matters worse i.e. i have gained 35 lbs since staring my bsn program. my current plan to get back to healthy eating and exercise once i finish nursing school in december but only time will tell if i can stick to it or not.

I am personally working on becoming fit now ( I start nursing school in the fall). I want to be fit, and I think I'll enjoy nursing more if I am. That said...Our nursing uniforms were offered up to size 5X and they ran large. One of the nursing faculty joked about how a Dr. She knew use to joke about how it must be mandatory for nursing students to be obese. While crude, it did seem to have a grain of truth. There were many there larger than me and I am "severely obese" according to my new nursing App, so being fit is certainly not a requirement.