Keeping Fit While Traveling

I have been nursing for over 30 years.  During 26 of those years I was a member of the Army Reserve and National Guard.  As a military member, we were expected to keep fit and to pass a Physical Fitness test annually.  I was working full time and at times also part-time and a single mom of 2 children.  During those years I managed to stay physically fit by carving out a few hours a week to take care of myself.

Now I am no longer in the military, only work part time, and my kids are grown and on their own and I can’t manage to exercise.  I had my annual exam at the doctor last week and he raised the question.  What are you doing for exercise?  I was embarrassed to say nothing.   Go figure.  Physical Activity is such a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  in 2008  set standards for recommended physical activity each week.  They recommend at least 2 .5 hours a week.

That said, squeezing in a workout can prove quite difficult for medical professionals. Our long shifts and post-work fatigue, make hitting the gym the last thing on our mind. Check out these tips that may help you strike a balance between physical activity and a busy schedule:

Maintain A Healthy Weight

Until I was in my late 40’s my weight never changed.  Even after 4 pregnancies I was able to get back to my same weight within a few months.  Now it seems it is a daily voice in my head to “watch my weight”.

I have learned that the way to approach weight loss and be successful is to change the way you think about loosing weight. I learned that just focusing on the number on the scale is not the answer.  Setting the right goals and to focus on while following a healthy eating plan is the answer.  Consider things like watching portion sizes, being physically active, and reducing sedentary time as a more effective approach.

Your chores count

Fortunately our daily activity counts as part of our health plan.  What you do outside of your work can have an impact on your health.  Do you spend time catching upp on the to-do list of chores around the home?  You will find that activities, like cleaning your house, doing yard work, and walking your dog, can count as exercise.  Fitting in a work out regimen may not be so difficult as we believe.

When you split chores with the kids or a spouse make sure you save the active responsibilities for yourself.   I always love doing the yard work, mopping the floor and walking the dogs.  By doing these things I am  taking care of my health and getting my chores done all at the same time.

The National Health Institute (NIH) has a great guide of moderate amounts of physical activity to consider.

Short and sweet

Short and sweet will get the job done. Hours spent at the gym is not always the answer.  I know that going to a gym just does not work for me.  For me finding the time is an issue. Secondly having to wait for equipment that some sweaty young man has been using is just not my thing.

I have read that adults should fit in their exercise in no shorter than 10-minute increments. Try waking up 10 minutes earlier each day and complete part of your exercise regimen before your morning shower. Once you return home from your day work in another short burst of aerobic activity.  Take a quick walk with your furry friend around the block.  Grab your bike for a short ride to finish out your day.

As nurses we may find it challenging to fit exercise into our schedule, but doing so is necessary for our  well-being. Travel nurses may find it even more difficult since you are moving to new locations and environments so frequently.

If you can not fit in a 30 minute workout a couple times a week then opt for housework.  Use one form of physical activity for short at home exercises several times a week.   I always tell family members who are caregivers, if you don’t take care of yourself then you can’t care for someone else.  As a nurse the same goes for us.

Share your fitness tips in the comments section below.

Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a retired RN and US Army Nurse Major. She has over 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and once to South Korea. Her medical training began during the Vietnam era when trained as an army medic. She went on to train as an OR tech and then as a LVN/LPN. She completed nursing school and was direct commissioned into the reserve Army Nurse Corp. nurse. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and working in other medical facilities. During her career she spent years as an OR nurse, Occupational Health Nurse, Hospice Nurse, Forensic Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as being a Nurse Entrepreneur.
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