7 Quick and Easy Workouts to Be a Fit Nurse

two nurses walking up the stairs at work

Are you a busy nurse who’s looking to get in shape? Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? We are confident that a busy nurse can be a fit nurse and feel energized and refreshed while on shift. That’s because there are plenty of simple workouts and stretches a nurse can sneak in between shifts or even on the job. 

So, if you’re itching to get in shape, we've got you covered. Here are seven easy workouts for nurses to help you feel fit and healthy all day. 

What Are the Best Ways to Get More Exercise in a Day?

Before moving on to the good stuff, let’s break down why it’s so important for nurses to get in a little exercise every day. First of all, exercise has many benefits, some more obvious than others. For instance, we all know that exercise manages weight and strengthens bones and muscles. Additionally, exercise improves mood and reduces stress levels. But did you know that doing a short amount of exercise a day can increase your life span? As a matter of fact, one study showed that just eleven minutes of exercise a day is enough to help you live longer. 

Aside from increasing lifespan and reducing stress, at the end of the day, exercise can drastically improve your mood and make it easier to do everyday activities. Since nurses play a critical role in the healthcare industry, they should be fit and healthy in order to provide the best care to patients. 

With that in mind, some of the most effective exercises for busy people (a.k.a nurses) can be incorporated into days off as well as work days. 

What Are Some Easy Exercise Workouts for Nurses?

For busy nurses, here are some top exercise choices to do at home or at work:

1. Planks for Night-Shift Nurses

A plank circuit is a straightforward, low-intensity, full-body workout.  Planks are ideal for nurses looking to improve balance, strength, and concentration. It’s also the perfect exercise for busy night-shift nurses looking for a boost in energy and muscle tone. In addition, plank training can significantly improve posture and core strength and can even help with chronic back pain (which is common among night-shift nurses).

How to Do a Plank 

Start in a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders and feet hip-width apart. Lower down onto your forearms while engaging your core muscles. Make sure your body forms a straight line from heels to shoulders. Keep your neck and spine in a neutral position and gaze at a fixed point on the floor. Hold the plank for as long as you can, aiming for at least 30 seconds. Repeat the plank circuit two to three times. A good example of how to do a plank the right way can be found here.

2. Burpees for 12-Hour Shift Nurses

Whether you dread or get excited about doing burpees, there is no denying that a burpee circuit exercise involves strength training the entire body. Legs, arms, glutes, chest, and back will all feel the burn during a burpee circuit workout. Additionally, a burpee circuit is great for cardiovascular health as it brings your heart rate up in a matter of minutes. What’s more, burpees can be done anywhere and are an ideal exercise for busy nurses who want to get their hearts pumping in a short amount of time.  

How to Do a Burpee 

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, squat down and place your hands on the ground in front of you. Jump your feet back into a plank position (engaging your abdomen) and lower your body to the ground. Finally, push up with your arms, jump your feet back to the squat position, and finish with a jump into the air. Repeat the burpee circuit up to 20 times or however long it takes to get your heart rate up. 

When practicing burpees, form is everything, especially if you want to prevent injury as a nurse. Additionally, if you need to modify your burpee to help lower the intensity, it’s important to listen to your body. For these reasons, make sure to check out the right way to do a burpee here. 

3. Sun Salutations for Early Risers  

Sun salutations are a popular yoga sequence that stretches the entire body while improving muscle strength. Sun salutations can be an ideal morning practice for nurses who want to start the day off limber and clear-minded. 

How to Do a Sun Salutation

Stand at the front of your mat with your feet shoulder-width apart (Tadasana). Take a deep inhale and begin to raise your arms towards the sky. Add a slight backbend if you feel warmed up. Next, bend forward (Uttanasana), place your hands on the mat, and step back into plank pose (Phalakasana). Begin to lower yourself down while moving forward into an upward dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). Use your breath and return to a downward dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana). Repeat this sequence several times while syncing your movements with your breath. For a visual reference, check out this simple sun salutation video here.  

4. Jog Your Way to Health

Not everyone loves to run, and that’s okay. But did you know that low-impact jogging is quite different from high-impact running? Basically, low-impact jogging is running at a pace that doesn’t cause you to be winded but still provides cardiovascular benefits. 

How to Jog with Low Impact

As mentioned above, low-impact jogging involves a low-intensity run that doesn’t cause your heart rate to spike suddenly. This pace may mean eight minutes per mile, or it may mean 11. In either scenario, the best way to figure out what pace works for you is to break out your running shoes and monitor your pace alongside your heart rate. From there, incorporating just 10 minutes of low-impact jogging a day can help you reach a fit nurse status. 

What Are Good Workouts for Busy People?

Do you feel like you could never squeeze in a workout in your hectic schedule? Check out these great exercises for busy people:

5. Zumba Express

Zumba remains a classic for busy nurses who want to get fit but also have a little fun. Zumba Express workouts are fun aerobic dance videos that can help nurses break a sweat in a short amount of time. 

How to Do a Zumba Express Workout

Zumba Express workouts (usually 20 minutes long) are a condensed version of a regular 60-minute Zumba workout. They involve a moderate-intensity dance sequence inspired by Latin rhythms such as salsa, merengue, and samba. Zumba provides a full-body workout and can be done in a group class or practiced at home. Check out this Zumba Express 20-minute version here

6. Stair Climbers for Fit Nurses on Shift

Want to know how to exercise while you’re at work? Got stairs? You’re in luck. Stair climbing can increase leg strength and reduce the risk of falls, which is particularly important for nurses who want to stay agile on their feet. 

How to Stair Climb While at Work 

Incorporating stair climbing while on shift is as simple as—you guessed it—locating a stairwell at your place of employment. Once you locate a flight of stairs, you can begin your workout. To do a stair workout, you should aim for at least 10 minutes of walking up and down consecutive steps. Aim to keep your shoulders back, your core engaged, and your back straight.

Nursing tips: Busy nurses can practice stair climb circuits while on break. Additionally, a nurse could arrive to work a few minutes early to squeeze in a stair climbing exercise. 

7. Calf Raises and Marches in Place 

Aside from circuit workouts, nurses can incorporate small movements throughout their shifts, such as marching in place or doing calf raises to boost circulation and energy levels. These types of exercises are important for nurses because they help with flexibility and general stress relief. Moreover, nurses can incorporate small balance exercises, such as standing leg lifts, to help improve balance and concentration. Nurses who practice even small amounts of physical activity a day will start to see results. 

Tips for Nurses: Get Moving Today

Nursing is a demanding occupation that requires great physical and mental stamina. Every nurse should feel fit and energized while at work because a nurse who feels this way will not only enjoy better health and a higher quality of life but also inevitably provide better patient care. 

If you are a nurse,  this is your chance to get moving today. By incorporating a few exercises a day, you can benefit your heart and mind!

Wondering How Much Can You Make as an RN? Click Here to Find Out!

Blog published on:
August 15, 2023

Meet Jenna, a contributing copywriter at Nursa who writes about healthcare news and updates, empathy and compassion for nurses, how to show staff appreciation and increase retention, and guides that help nurses navigate career pathways.

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