Why So Many Unhealthy Nurses?


Are you unhealthy?

I am still a student and today our instructor was telling us about nurses being one of the most unhealthy groups overall with weight issues, etc. She said "The docs get it and try to be healthy but the nurses dont seem to grasp the health concept themselves."


I am curious for personal reasons (my own health sucks! but want to be healthier in future) and also thinking of doing this subject as my senior project/presentation in sort.

What causes them to be so unhealthy and what can be done to change this? Who is taking care of us? Are we destined to take care ourselves last?

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.
She said "The docs get it and try to be healthy but the nurses dont seem to grasp the health concept themselves."
While I rarely see physicians smoking cigarettes, I have seen numerous docs that need to shed some extra pounds. After all, I live in Texas, where everything is bigger (including the people).

Nurses are also under the same societal pressures as other demographical groups, so why should we be immune to issues with weight? I realize we should serve as role models for our patients, but we are still infallible human beings with the same problems as the greater population.


2,228 Posts

shift work doesn't help, if you work 3-11, don't get a meal break, and then eat after you get home and then go to bed, well......................


2,228 Posts

........and, you're usually too tired to exercise


149 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Psych..

Majority of the nurses in the workforce are female. We not only have to deal with the stressor at work but also at home. For instance me, I have a full time job and I also work per-diem, so basically I work 5 days a week. As you know nursing itself is a very both physically and emotionally demanding profession. After working hard for 12 hrs/day my responsibilities do not end there, I still have to do my chores and fullfill my responsibilities at home ie taking care of my family. By the time I am done with doing all of that I dont have the energy to step on my threadmill or workout to shed some extra pounds that I may have gotten by eating all sorts of junk food!! At the end of the day I just feel like crawling into bed and sleep.

Also not to mention sleep deprivation and trying to eat lunch quickly so that I will not take more than 30 min of my lunch break. I try to eat healthy, as I bring food from home but I have seen other nurses eating from outside. Also all the phsyical injury that we get over the years after pulling, lifting all those bed ridden heavy pts.

I try to do some workout when I am off, then again during those days I try to spend some quality time with my family because those are the only days that my family really gets to see me....


139 Posts

Specializes in psych nursing.

Nurses are just as unhealthy as the rest of America. Nursing can be stressful, causing alot of us to be emotional eaters. Long hours don't help because it's hard to fit in time to exercise. We live in a society that just does not know how to relax but over indulge.


2 Articles; 372 Posts

Specializes in Trauma ICU,ER,ACLS/BLS instructor.

We all became nurses for a reason. Many different ones, but I think the core of it is we love to care for others. Problem is, we do not all like to take the time to care for ourselves. We get ourselves involved in unhealthy relationships and lifestyles ,more then most, or just put everyone else first. We need to be needed.

Then that day comes when u look in the mirror and hopefully recognise the need to take care of u. Our bodies, physical and mental health should be the number one priority. For without this, how can we really adequately care for others?

Just my view from personnal experience and what I have seen throughout the years.(took me years and many tears!)


1,927 Posts

I don't know about nurses, but as an aide who works days and nights, I find it hard to get up at 0500 just to eat a good breakfast. I'd rather sleep. Yes, it's laziness on my part but it's hard working 12 hours. You feel like all you do is work, go to bed, and work again.

At work, I can hardly tell pts to wait for the br while I go eat or drink. And working 12 hours doesn't help. I only get one 30 min break for 12 hours. Lunch time is carved in at 1100 so I'll go 8 hours without eating again. People who work in offices can eat at their desks if they have to but I can't eat at the bedside (gross!). Any finger food that can be eaten while standing at the nurse's station is nice, but hardly healthy.

leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

i have to wonder if it's a stress response:

that instead of making a leisurely, carefully deliberated decision to be healthy, we end up eating in survival mode.

kind of like, chew and screw.

fast food, fast feet.

for the most part, i think it's a cultural event.

survival of the 'unfittest'?



1 Article; 5,758 Posts

I think grabbing unhealthy snacks on the run have a lot to do with it.


149 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Psych..

Getting addicted to allnurses.com does not help either....now I read your post instead of doing some excercise....another excuse;)

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