Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - Fitness Excuses – Busted!
We debunk four common excuses nurses give for not working out.
Nurses know the benefits of regular exercise, but many of us still aren’t making fitness a priority. According to 2021 ANA Enterprise's HealthyNurse Survey, about 14% of nurses do not exercise at all. Here are some of the common excuses nurses cite for not working out:
“I don’t strength train because I’m afraid of bulking up.”
Muscle weighs more than fat, yes, but strength training or lifting weights will help you get leaner, stronger, and more toned. Even though you might weigh a few pounds more as a result, you’ll more likely fit into a smaller clothing size. Plus, because strength training spikes your metabolism, you’ll be better able to maintain your weight and lose fat. Best of all, strength training has been linked to myriad health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, lifting weights can increase bone density and ward off osteoporosis, reduce the symptoms of chronic conditions (such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression, and diabetes), and even sharpen your mind.
To get started with lifting weights, you don’t need to join Crossfit or a bootcamp (although those are great options!), you can use a resistance band or even your own body weight.
“I’m not flexible enough for yoga.”
Becoming more flexible is a worthy goal, particularly since a recent study has suggested that being physically flexible translates to having flexible arteries, which can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Flexibility may also prevent injury, improve muscle tone, and help you stay on your feet!
However, not being able to touch your toes during your first yoga class, is okay. If you don’t stretch regularly, you might not be flexible, but with enough practice over time, your muscles and joints will become more pliable, and the poses will get easier (the same is true for other flexibility boosters like barre classes and Pilates). Ready to give yoga a try? Here are modified yoga poses, helpful for beginners.
“If I work out after my shift, I’ll never fall asleep.”
If you get out of work at a decent time, exercising after your shift shouldn’t prevent you from getting quality shuteye. A 2011 study suggests that exercising in the evening or late in the day doesn’t interfere with sleep. In fact, in our Fall Asleep Faster blog post, Jackie Levin, board-certified holistic nurse and founder of Leading Edge Nursing, says that moderate exercise before bed can release any worry and frustration from the day and help you sleep better.
Of course, you know your body best, so if you find that a speedy run or a 9 p.m. kickboxing class keeps you up at night, you might try doing something slower-paced, such as yoga, tai-chi, or a leisurely walk.
“If I don’t have time to exercise every day, there’s no point in working out at all.”
The World Health Organization (WHO)’s recommendation of aiming for 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity weekly can seem daunting – especially between busy work schedules, family obligations, and educational pursuits.
Many nurses feel overwhelmed at the idea of squeezing fitness into daily life and often decide to forgo working out entirely since they can’t keep up a routine. But, there’s good news! A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that people who exercise just a few days per week will still get some of the same health benefits as those who work out daily, even if they fall short of the WHO’s time and intensity goal. Both groups (the daily exercisers and the “weekend warriors”) lowered their risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and early death.
So rest assured if you’re only able to work out a few days out of the week, or even just one day a week, you’ll still be doing something positive for your health. If you’re still struggling to find the time, try these sneaky ways to incorporate fitness into your day.
Are there any other myths you’d like us to look into? Have any fitness tips you want to share with the us? Post in our discussion or in our private Facebook group.
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Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation Year Two Highlights 2018-2019 (Editor's note: this link is no longer active.)
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Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier. (2016, April 22).
Yamamoto, K., Kawano, H., Gando, Y., et al. (2009, October). Poor trunk flexibility is associated with arterial stiffening.
Myllymäki, T., Kyröläinen, H., Savolainen, K., et al. (2011, March). Effects of vigorous late-night exercise on sleep quality and cardiac autonomic activity.
O'Donovan, G., Lee, I., Hamer, M., et al. (2017, March 01). Association of Leisure Time Physical Activity With Risk for Mortality.
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Saying you are not flexible enough for yoga is like saying you are too tired to sleep!
Great article! On point in every aspect. Most expecailly that every little bit matters. Fitting in a few minutes of just rolling around and stretching on the floor instead of melting into the couch watching TV can have huge impacts. Its about starting from wherever you are and just moving a little more.