Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Angie Koppe, RN
Nurse hits her stride and walks her way to wellness while she works
Many people associate wellness and balance with meditation and other activities that quiet the mind. But Albert Einstein said, “To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
#healthynurse Angie Koppe, RN, heard his message loud and clear.
“I feel my best when I’m moving,” she says. “I talk quickly. I like to do things fast. And one thing I know is that I can’t sit at a desk for 8 hours.”
The problem is that Angie works remotely, reviewing medical requests on behalf of military families. She spent 10 years at the bedside, only making a change after she hurt her back. She loves what she does now. The only downside? It’s a work-at-your-desk kind of job.
Angie knew she needed to bridge the gap between her desire to move and the job she loved. She added an under-desk cycle and walked during her breaks, which helped.
But none of it truly satisfied her need for speed. She knew she really wanted to be walking while she worked.
Finding What Works, One-Step-At-A-Time
Angie had heard about walking workstations at work and loved the idea of them. She bought a cheap treadmill off Facebook and her husband designed a desk layout to work with it. He built a pullout shelf for her keyboard and another shelf to hold her computer monitor (she manually moved it to the treadmill when she wanted to walk).
Angie immediately felt better not sitting all day and has been walking through her workday for almost 7 years. She walks 3 to 4 hours each day, typically logging more than 30,000 steps daily. In the first few years, Angie burned through 4 treadmill motors — and her husband modified her workstation to fit each new treadmill.
Finally, they decided to purchase a commercial-grade treadmill and an adjustable desk to place alongside it. Her husband put her computer monitor on a moveable arm so that when Angie raises her desk and swivels the monitor, she can work and walk simultaneously. When she’s not walking, Angie alternates between sitting and standing at her desk.
“My back feels good, and the setup gives me options depending on what my body needs,” Angie says. “I’ve learned what speed I can go during phone calls or meetings so that I’m not breathing heavily. But for most of the work I do, I can be walking while I do it.”
Wellness Beyond Walking
Angie understands that true wellness involves the whole body. While her treadmill may help her find balance physically, she’s found other ways to bring emotional and spiritual balance to her life.
Each day, Angie:
- Sets daily intentions: Angie begins each day reading her Bible, performing daily devotions, and taking quiet time to refocus her perspective. She reminds herself that the day is about helping others.
- Surrounds herself with things that bring her joy: Angie spends a lot of time in her office. She painted it her favorite color (bubblegum pink), hung inspirational Bible verses, and positioned her treadmill and desk to provide a view of her pool.
- Takes meaningful breaks: Angie takes advantage of her midday break — it helps her work better. In the summer, she spends that break poolside. In the winter, she practices PiYo, workouts that combine Pilates and yoga.
- Lends a helping hand: Being of service to others feeds Angie’s soul. She enjoys taking care of her immediate family and friends, helping them with whatever they need. She also serves at her church and several charitable organizations, leads a prayer group, and helps her husband conduct a Bible study.
- Recognizes the power of rest: One of Angie’s biggest challenges is resting her body. She always gets 8 hours of sleep a night. And she’s learning that it’s okay to sit on the couch and do nothing sometimes.
“All of these practices help me fill my cup, so to speak,” Angie says. “The hope is that my cup overflows to encourage and inspire the people around me.”
Contagious Enthusiasm for Wellness
Angie’s cup is indeed overflowing. Those around her — especially her coworkers — drink in her energy and enthusiasm for wellness.
Angie is a Well-Being Advocate at work and has won awards for her efforts, including the 2022 Inspire Health Award from Humana Military and the 2023 Inspire Well-Being Award. The Well-Being award recognizes nurses who strive for their own well-being and inspire their colleagues to do the same. She’s gotten the coworkers within her department excited about the wellness challenges offered by her company. They participate as a team, and Angie helps her coworkers modify the challenges when needed.
“There are so many opportunities for wellness,” Angie says. “But everybody’s well-being is different, so I try to meet them wherever they are in their wellness journey.”
After all, if anyone understands the importance of taking one step at a time toward a goal, it’s Angie.
Angie Koppe, RN, is a Utilization Management Nurse at Humana.
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