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Kelley Roy
By: Kelley Roy Posted: Oct 18th, 2021
NursePower Empowers Nurses

Energizing, Nurse-Friendly Exercises You Can Do at Work: Part 3

How did you make out with Part 1 and Part 2 of our Nurse-Friendly Exercises?

Part 1 focused on your legs and Part 2 focused on your arms. In Part 3 of Nurse-Friendly Exercises, You Can Do at Work, we’re going to focus on your core muscles.

Core exercises are some of the all-around best exercises you can do to improve your overall health. They strengthen all those muscles from your rib cage down to your upper thighs and they help you maintain your posture and pick up things.

Considering how much time nurses spend on their feet and physically moving either patients or equipment, these exercises are super important for you to do.

Like the rest of our Nurse-Friendly Exercises, we’ve chosen moves that you can do while on the job in very short sprints of time — 30 seconds or less. If you have more time, then you can do more, otherwise, these should be easy to add to your daily routines.

Remember, daily exercise in just small increments of time also helps you relieve stress and anxiety.


Nurse-Friendly Exercise #7: Side Bends

NursePower - Stock image - Exercise - side bends

Side Bends are super work-friendly exercises. There are also a couple of variations to help you intensify the workout when you’re ready for more.

Ready? Great!

Stand with your feet shoulder-length apart. With good posture, now bend from your waist to your right, letting your right-hand travel down your thigh as far as it can go. Straighten to an upright position. Repeat 10 times and then perform on your left side 10 times.

If this feels way too easy right out of the gate, then you can begin to intensify the exercise:

  • Intensification #1: When bending to the right, put your left hand behind your head. This will reduce the counterweight of your opposite hand when you return to an upright position. Repeat on the other side.
  • Intensification #2: When bending to the right, hold a weight in your right hand. If weight is not available, then you can use anything that fits nicely in your hand and adds some weight to the movement. Perform 10 times on each side.
  • Intensification #3: This move requires balance, which further strengthens your core by working all the tiny stabilizer muscles. While standing, lift your right leg out to the side slightly. You can work on holding it higher over time, but to start just lift it slightly. Now bend from your waist to the right, making sure to keep the right leg lifted. Perform 10 times on each side.

Once you become comfortable with this exercise, you can combine any of the various intensification moves that you want. 


Nurse-Friendly Exercise #8: Standing Stabilization

Standing Stabilization will help all the muscles you use every time you help a patient sit up. This move will help you protect your spine and reduce all those back aches at the end of a shift.

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly. Hold your arms straight out in front of you with your palms touching. Now rotate 90 degrees to your right while keeping your lower half in place. Rotate back to center. Repeat 10 times on each side.

To intensify this move, hold something very light in your hands. Trust me, you don’t want to hold anything above 5 pounds because it will put too much pressure on your shoulders. Even just holding a pillow in your hands while you perform this move will intensify it.

Nurse-Friendly Exercise #9: Zombie Marches

NursePower - Stock image - exercise - zombie marches

Okay, for this exercise you might want a little privacy depending on how well you get along with your team! I say that because you might feel a little silly doing this but it is a great exercise that works not only your core but also your shoulders and upper back.

Zombie Marches are similar to a simple Switch Kick, like in the picture, but we’re going to add the arms into this move. This will require some balance.

Stand tall with your arms above your head and your feet shoulder-width apart. While keeping your right leg as straight as you can, lift it as high as you can. Simultaneously, drop both arms 90 degrees towards your lifted leg, keeping your arms straight like a zombie. (Feel free to groan like a zombie, if you like.)

Lift your arms to start position and drop your right leg to start position simultaneously. Repeat with your left leg.

Ideally, you’ll be able to lift your leg 90 degrees so it is straight out in front of you. If you can’t, that’s okay. Lift it as high as you can. Drop your hands 90 degrees so they are straight out in front of you. Over time, you’ll be able to touch your lifted leg.


NursePower Empowers Nurses!

You’ll notice that our Nurse-Friendly Exercises aren’t time or effort-intensive, nor are they about looking better in your scrubs. Instead, they are about keeping you physically and emotionally healthy.

Adding small amounts of targeted exercise into your daily routine will help you prevent injuries and chronic aches that plague all nurses. It will also help you reduce your stress and anxiety because, as we all know, exercise releases endorphins and other beneficial chemicals into our system that help us emotionally.

Share these Nurse-Friendly Exercises with the other nurses on your shift so you can support each other. I promise that at the very least, the sight of several of you doing Zombie Marches at the desk will get you giggling. 

And we could all use some more giggles.

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Kelley Roy

About Kelley Roy, RN

Kelley Roy is the Clinical Executive Director at Assured Quality Homecare (ASQ) and oversees the private duty nursing service, NursePower.  She also leads ASQ's personal care aide training and education programs.  Kelley started her career in healthcare in 1985 as a CNA and became an LPN in 1987.  Embracing her passion for working with the elderly, she pursued an RN degree with a certification in gerontology. In 1990, she started a nursing agency that exclusively provided services to long-term care facilities. By the mid-1990s, this agency had grown over a hundred employees and was the largest nurse staffing agency in New Hampshire. In 1998, Kelley moved to Norwich, CT, with her sons and continued to work in long-term care in both New Hampshire and Connecticut.  Her management experiences include nurse manager for Shoreline Allergy and Asthma from 2000 to 2016 and an additional year at the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology department at Mass General Hospital.  She enjoyed teaching a Certified Nurses Aide training class to adult learners at American Ambulance from 2013 until 2017. She joined the team at ASQ in 2017 and is passionate about helping the team grow, both personally and professionally.  You can find Kelley working on a home improvement project or pontoon boating and fishing on Amston Lake with family and friends when not at work.


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