Written by Debbie Swanson from allheart.com.
Nurses know more then anyone that there are so many benefits to exercise. It helps our minds, bodies and souls because it:
- Helps to control weight
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Manages blood sugar and insulin levels
- Improves your mental health and mood
- Strengthens your bones and muscles
- Improves your sleep
- And most importantly, it releases hormones that make you feel good!
But as a busy nurse, it can be so hard to find time to exercise, especially since the average workout class lasts about 60 minutes. The good news is that there are lots of workouts that can easily be done at home on your own time whenever you have a few free minutes.
Below are seven ideas that will help you squeeze in a quick & effective workout with minimal equipment and time. So, take off your scrubs, put on your workout clothes and get moving!
Think you must to get to the gym and lift weights for an hour to get stronger? Think again! As the name implies, bodyweight exercises use your bodyweight to build strength, no equipment necessary.
Bodyweight workouts can focus on the upper or lower body or combine them both for a total body workout. You’ll do moves such as push-ups, squats, lunges and tricep dips that rely on your body weight and proper form to work your muscles. These moves either don’t require equipment at all or can be done using items around your house, such as a sturdy chair. Some people also like to use an exercise mat to provide a bit more cushion.
While running is often associated with training for a marathon or distance, it can also be a remarkably efficient workout for those who don’t want to spend hours exercising. Running for just 20 or 30 minutes will get your heart rate up and your blood pumping, and all it requires is a pair of supportive running shoes.
If the weather doesn’t permit you to run outside, see if you have access to a gym—even the smallest, most under-equipped workout room usually has at least one treadmill. And if you dislike the repetitive nature of running, create a music playlist or download a compelling podcast so you can get two things done at once as you move.
Plyometrics, also called jump training or plyo, is another form of an intense and efficient cardio workout. Exercises include the squat jump, tuck knee jump, lateral jump, power skipping, vertical jump, lunge jump and more. These explosive movements get your heart rate up and burn calories in a short amount of time.
A word of caution: The intensive nature of plyometrics means that this workout isn’t the best choice for everyone, especially those who have lower body or back issues or those who are new to working out. However, if you’re already in good cardiovascular shape—say, you’ve been running a lot and you’re looking for some variety—plyometrics is definitely worth checking out.
Boxing requires a lot of equipment. You need a punching bag, gloves, hand wraps and so on. Certain versions of kickboxing simplify this approach, allowing you to practice without all the equipment (sort of like shadowboxing). As the name suggests, kickboxing focuses on powerful kicks, with the hands and feet being used as the main contact points. This karate-inflected style can be used as self-defense, but it’s also a very popular workout class both online and in real life.
If you’d like to get out some aggression and stress while getting in a workout, simply Google “at home kickboxing workout videos” and plenty of results will pop up. You may feel a little silly punching and kicking the air at first, but you’ll be sweating in no time!
Aerobics is a catch-all term that refers to any activity that strengthens the heart and lungs, such as walking and swimming. Some aerobic exercises require a lot of time or equipment–or both—but plenty of others can be done at home whenever you have a few minutes. Lots of online cardio workouts fall into the aerobics category and they often have a theme such as step or dance. Classes usually range in length from 10 to 60 minutes, so you can choose whatever suits your schedule.
Make sure you check that no equipment is required before deciding on an aerobics workout. Some don’t require anything at all besides tennis shoes, while others may use a step-up box, light hand weights or other small equipment.
In their original form, very few ab workouts require weights or other equipment (though you might want to use an exercise mat to provide a bit of cushion and keep you from slipping during core work). From planks to crunches to sit-ups to leg lifts to toe touches to oblique twists, there are literally dozens of ab exercises you can do at home whenever you have a few minutes free in your schedule.
If you need some inspiration, there are lots of ab workout videos available for free on YouTube to get you started.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is more of an approach than a specific type of exercise. HIIT involves giving your maximum effort to exercise for a short period of time (usually less than a minute) followed by an even briefer rest period. You may also have heard of Tabata, which is a specific type of HIIT workout that follows this pattern: eight rounds of 20 seconds of exercises at maximum effort and then 10 seconds of rest. HIIT can be used for bodyweight exercises, plyometrics, running—pretty much any workout you can think of. HIIT is a great way to shake up the pace of your workouts and increase their intensity and efficiency without eating up more of your precious time.
Now, its time to get moving!
If you’re a busy nurse who’s crunched for time (and really, who isn’t overscheduled these days?), check out one of these workouts to fit exercise into your day. Any workout is better than no workout, so even if you only have a few minutes, make them count!
About The Author
Deborah Swanson is a Coordinator for the Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com, a site dedicated to celebrating medical professionals and their journeys. She keeps busy interviewing caregivers and writing about them and loves gardening