One of the key responsibilities to get a Nursing Degree is educating your patients on how to live a healthier lifestyle. This includes explaining the importance of keeping physically fit to reduce the risk of developing all sorts of harmful medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer. It’s also vital that you practice what you preach, both to keep yourself healthy and to set a good example for those in your care.
However, it’s not always easy to fit exercise into your busy schedule as a nursing student. You’ve got classes to attend, assignments to work on and clinical placements to complete – possibly all while still holding down a full-time job.
To help you out, this article will give some top tips on how you can maintain a good level of fitness during your nursing degree. Not only can you do this without sacrificing your studies, but you might also even find that your grades improve.
Why Physical Fitness Is Important for Nursing Students
If you’re studying nursing, you undoubtedly already know how important staying physically fit is for your health. However, you may not have given much thought to how beneficial it can be to your studies.
Firstly, your clinical placements may involve working long shifts during which you’re on your feet for many hours. It might not always be possible to take a break when you want to, and you may have to work overtime if an emergency arises. As such, having a high level of stamina will go a long way toward making the experience easier for you. This will then carry over into your long-term career as a nurse, where your shifts might be even longer.
Secondly, research indicates that physical fitness is linked with better brain functioning. It can help to improve your performance on cognitive tests, plus boost your memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. This means that you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of getting good grades and graduating with flying colors if you make fitness one of your priorities. Plus, it will be helpful in the workplace, as nursing is a career that requires good levels of attention to detail, critical thinking, decision making, and creative problem-solving.
How to Stay Fit While You’re Studying
Having established why it’s so important to maintain good physical fitness during your nursing studies, let’s turn to some ways you can do so. Don’t worry if they don’t all appeal to you – even incorporating just a couple of these ideas can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health:
Go for a Walk on Your Study Breaks
Next time you’re studying and feel the need to take a break, head outside for a short walk instead of scrolling through social media or binging Netflix. Not only does a daily walk do wonders for your fitness, but it’s also been shown to give your creativity a boost. As such, it’s an especially good choice if you find yourself stuck on a particular question or hit writer’s block during an assignment.
For maximum benefit, try to choose a location that’s surrounded by nature, such as a park, beach, or area of woodland. It’s also best to head out when it’s sunny because exposure to sunlight has several mental and physical health benefits – just be sure to wear sunscreen.
Join an Active College Society
If you’re the sort of person who shudders with dread at the idea of going for a run or hitting the gym, don’t despair. There are plenty of other options out there when it comes to exercise. Take a look at the clubs and societies your college offers and make a list of all the active ones that you like the sound of. Then drop by and give them a go. From team sports to group hikes, martial arts, climbing, and dance classes, it doesn’t matter what activity you choose as long as it’s fun and keeps you fit.
For those who are studying a distance learning course such as the Texas Woman’s University online programs, there may be some fitness classes you can join over Zoom. Alternatively, look at what’s available near to where you live.
Make Your Workouts More Effective
A lot of people are unclear about exactly how to get the most benefit from their workouts. If that sounds like you, try the following:
- Mix up cardio and weight training
- Harness the power of music to get motivated and work harder
- Try short, high-intensity exercises
- Find a workout buddy to make it less likely you’ll skip a session. A little healthy competition between you can also push you both to train harder
- Focus on your form when lifting weights to avoid injury
- If your gym offers a personal training service, consider using it to get individual exercise recommendations
Don’t Forget About the Diet
Exercise is crucial for health, but it’s not the only factor you need to think about. What you eat is just as important. Aim for a diet that’s packed with fresh fruit and vegetables of all different colors, as well as whole grains, nuts, seeds, pulses, and legumes. You should also be drinking seven or eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. This is key for nursing students because dehydration can lead to a decline in cognition, including difficulty concentrating and impaired memory. This is especially important when you have a test looming, so drink up.
Ensure You Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is one of the most vital components of a healthy body and happy mind. Not only does being well rested help you to work harder when exercising and reduce your chances of gaining weight, but it’s also crucial for your brain to function at its best. A lack of sleep can make you feel tired and irritable, which in turn will make it more likely that you snap at patients or make a mistake on your rounds during a clinical placement. It also causes problems with focus and concentration, plus impairs your memory and other cognitive abilities. As such, don’t be tempted to pull an all-night study session before an exam – you’ll be better off getting seven to nine hours of good quality sleep. That’s one fitness rule everyone will be happy to stick to.