Nurses who want to elevate their careers and provide better patient care need advanced education. They must focus on improving their knowledge base and the skills required to be successful in their role. Advanced qualifications not only improve their knowledge and skills, but they also prove that nurses have the capability to take on more specialized and higher positions. These qualifications also show potential employers that they have undergone the training they need to be effective in their jobs.
Building on the necessity for advanced education in nursing, reputable institutions such as Wilkes University have taken significant steps to support nurses in their career advancement. They offer accredited and specialized programs such as online RN to MSN FNP programs. These programs are delivered 100% online, and this provides a flexible learning environment for nurses. This means that you don’t have to juggle hospital shifts and traveling to campus. You can learn from home and in between shifts and strike a balance between your professional, personal and academic commitments.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial as nurses navigate this educational journey, and wellness is an integral part of that journey. While the flexibility of online programs helps nurses to manage their time, the physical demands of nursing and studying for a certification or understanding new treatment methods still require them to be in good health.
This is why nurses need to integrate fitness and physical health into their routines. Staying physically active will not only boost your energy levels, but will also enhance your cognitive function, which can be a significant advantage when pursuing a demanding advanced degree.
This article will explore five benefits of fitness and physical health, shedding light on how maintaining a fitness routine can positively impact your educational experience and overall well being.
Five benefits of fitness and physical health for nurses
It’s common knowledge that people need to prioritize their physical health and wellness. This is especially true in today’s era, when more people are prioritizing fitness and healthy living. But why do nurses pursuing advanced degrees need to stay physically fit and healthy? Here are five reasons why.
Improved health and wellness
Nurses are usually on the move. Whether you’re administering an IV for a patient, helping an elderly patient to move around, or trying to appease a young patient who’s afraid of injections, when you incorporate physical fitness into your routine, these strenuous tasks become easier. For instance, maintaining good cardiovascular health through cardio exercises, such as jogging or rounds of HIIT, can increase your oxygen flow to the brain, which can improve your concentration and assimilation.
For nurses pursuing advanced degrees, studying can sometimes mean sitting at your computer for hours, and some physical activity after long hours of sitting can help you to destress. Exercising in between studies can also regulate your mood. How? It moderates the levels of stress hormones known as cortisol and promotes the release of endorphins, commonly known as the ‘feel-good’ hormone. A good mood is vital for better assimilation, and a balanced emotional state will help you learn more effectively. A nurse without excessive stress or anxiety can better absorb complex topics and participate in constructive academic discussions.
Constant exercise can also strengthen your immune system. Studies have shown that regular physical activities can boost the body’s ability to ward off infections. Nurses, especially those frequently exposed to various pathogens, need a strong immune system on their side. Exercise boosts their immune system, and they can effectively do their job without being hampered by the flu or too many sick days.
Besides your immune system, there’s the obvious benefit of staying fit. Regular exercise reduces your chance of being overweight and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Alongside physical health, it will reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and some cardiovascular disorders.
Strength training at the gym or at home can come in handy when you need to lift or support patients. Flexibility exercises, such as yoga, will help you prevent muscle cramping or musculoskeletal injuries that are common in the nursing field. Enhanced physical health will generally improve nurses’ quality of life.
Increased energy levels
The dual responsibilities of academic rigor and clinical responsibilities can be overwhelming. Nurses need optimal energy levels when theory and practice are intensified. Fitness can help you access this reservoir of sustained energy.
Engaging in regular physical activity transforms how your body produces and uses energy. Aerobic exercises, such as swimming and running, improve the efficiency of your cardiovascular system. Your body can improve its ability to transport and utilize oxygen when your heart and lungs are more efficient. This way, tasks that you’ve found draining become more tolerable.
On the other hand, muscle endurance, which you can increase by engaging in resistance training such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, ensures that repetitive tasks are less taxing. For a nursing student, these tasks could be standing for prolonged periods during surgery or patient transfers.
To complement physiological improvements, the energy boost from regular exercise also has a biochemical basis. Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins, adrenaline and serotonin. These chemicals are known to elevate your mood, combat fatigue and also sharpen your alertness. Nurses, especially those who have to study for particular programs, would find this boost invaluable.
Improved mental judgment
Regular physical activity enhances blood flow to the brain. This increased circulation leads to the delivery of oxygen and nutrients that are essential for optimal brain function. This results in improved concentration and alertness, which are vital for intense study sessions and complex clinical applications.
Exercise stimulates the release of growth factors, which are chemicals in the brain that help create new neurons and establish new synaptic connections. This neurogenesis enhances comprehension and retention for nurses delving into advanced topics. This way, the brain becomes more malleable, adapting faster to new information and storing it more efficiently. Simply put, regular exercise can make you smarter.
Another way that consistent exercise helps is through improved sleep quality. Nurses need a restful night’s sleep to boost their cognitive functions, such as memory retention, and especially for nursing students, critical thinking and problem-solving. Many nurses also pursue advanced degrees in administrative areas. The demands of advanced nursing roles are also multifaceted. If you’re studying for leadership or research roles, you must have peak physical and mental health during your academic pursuit.
Setting an example
Nursing is not just about technical competence. Like many professions, it’s also about setting an example to your peers and patients. Nurses who have or are pursuing advanced degrees inherently occupy a position of influence. This means that many junior nurses look up to them. For nurses, their approach to fitness can have a profound impact on the healthcare community.
Your regular fitness routines can motivate junior nurses to engage in exercise. It sends a message – if those at the pinnacle of the profession who are juggling demanding roles and responsibilities can prioritize fitness, then it is attainable and essential for everyone. Setting an example can catalyze younger professionals to incorporate regular exercise into their routines or make healthier lifestyle choices.
It’s not just junior nurses though. Patients are also keen observers of their caregivers. A nurse who exudes vitality, agility and endurance often stands as a testament to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. When your patient sees you practicing what you preach, they’re more likely to practice it. For instance, a patient struggling with weight management may be inspired by a nurse who regularly visits a local fitness class.
Positive career impact
Physical health encompasses more than personal wellbeing – it can subtly influence your professional growth. A nurse’s commitment to maintaining their health and fitness can be seen as a reflection of their dedication to professional excellence.
It can also reflect their ability to manage the demands of the job. Institutions within the healthcare industry often look for professionals who exemplify a holistic approach to health, not just for themselves but also in their practice.
Nurses who prioritize their health may find themselves better prepared to take on leadership roles in patient education, community health initiatives or workplace wellness programs, where they can share their knowledge and positive habits with others.
Besides, you can effectively communicate the importance of preventive care when you practice what you preach. You can be a testament to how regular exercise and a healthy meal plan can significantly impact health. Your personal experiences give credibility to whatever you have to say, which is highly important if you want to encourage your audience. You can participate in community outreach programs, conduct workshops, or even represent healthcare institutions in public health campaigns.
How do you incorporate fitness into your lifestyle?
The benefits of good physical health are vast. But how do you improve your fitness and physical health as a nurse who is intent on climbing the career ladder? Below are three tips to help you incorporate fitness into your lifestyle.
Incorporate exercise into daily activities
Juggling academic pursuits and clinical duties can be challenging. You may find it difficult to manage your time or find a few hours to work out. Don’t fret; simplify it. Rather than allocate an elaborate time to work out, naturally infuse it into your daily routine. When you’re going to work in the early morning, take the stairs. Do some leg raises during your lunch break. At the end of your shift, do some yoga to destress. The crucial factor in fitness is to be consistent.
Join fitness groups or classes
Engaging in fitness groups not only provides structured exercises, but also offers a way to make friends, interact socially and stay motivated.
Fitness groups usually follow evolving routines. You don’t stick to one form of exercise, and this gives you a chance to choose a regime that works best for you. Your aerobic dance class may introduce new routines to keep the class fresh and engaging.
There’s also the motivational factor. Fitness groups offer a shared sense of purpose. Seeing other people push their limits can inspire you to do the same. This way, if you feel uninspired on a particular day, you can bank on the group’s energy to uplift and motivate you.
Drink plenty water
Dehydration can quickly cause fatigue and reduce your cognitive abilities. Your focus and memory may be reduced when you’re not properly hydrated. Regular water intake can enable you to maintain physical performance, helping you provide optimal patient care. When studying, always keep a full bottle of water nearby to encourage sipping. Sometimes, you may be too busy with ward rounds to take a drink; you can then settle for foods with high water content, such as fruits or vegetables.
Focus on nutrition
Physical health isn’t just about exercise – nutrition plays a crucial role. Nurses should prioritize a balanced diet that’s rich in whole foods, lean proteins and healthy fats. You can plan and prepare your meals to ensure that you have healthy options readily available. This reduces your likelihood of eating fast food or unhealthy snacks during study sessions or shifts.
Technological innovations, such as fitness apps, can be a game changer on your fitness journey. These apps can track a wide range of health metrics, from how many steps you take in a day to the amount of calories you consume. Some can even monitor your sleep pattern.
You can also use them to set and track your fitness goals. For instance, if you’re aiming to walk 10,000 steps in a day, you can set your limit in a pedometer app. You can also set reminders to drink water or walk, which can be helpful, especially during a busy shift. This way, you can keep your objectives front and center, make healthier choices, and support your career with the needed stamina.
Ultimately, prioritizing good physical health and fitness has unending advantages. The trick is to exercise, eat well, and make healthier life choices. While these are personal, they are factors that can improve your chances of career success and academic growth.