Do you need to be in good shape for a career in nursing?

A career in nursing will help others, always offer career security for you and be rewarding in so many ways. However, when training for this career, some people may overlook the importance of being in good physical shape.

Why it helps to be in good shape

Qualifications and work experience will always be the key factors in helping you secure a career in nursing. Qualifications such as the Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree will help you more than being a fitness fanatic will. However, there are several reasons why being in good shape is beneficial to your role.

As you’re likely to be working long hours, on your feet most of the day, and helping to lift or aid patients to stand and walk, having a lot of stamina and a reasonable level of strength is important. This doesn’t mean you have to take on marathon training or spend hours in the gym – unless you really want to. You should try to stay healthy and in the best shape you can, though.

Another thing to think about when offering advice to patients who need to change their lifestyle, is that they may not be happy to hear what you have to say. If you’re not in great shape yourself, they can use that as a reason to dispute your advice.

Why it’s not so easy

Unfortunately, the long hours and physically demanding role of nursing, which means you need to be in good shape, is often the reason you might not be. Eating on the go can become a regular thing and a quick chocolate bar or other unhealthy snack becomes a substitute for a meal, until you can sit down and eat something more substantial. Changing this isn’t easy, finding the motivation to exercise at the end of a long workday is challenging.

What you can do

Rather than setting big goals like losing a lot of weight, running a marathon or cutting out all unhealthy foods, start small. Cut out one chocolate bar a week. Replace it with fruit and build on that. Spend ten minutes a day at the gym or go for a gentle jog. It might not seem like much but setting your goals too high can increase the chances of giving up. It’s much better to do something to improve your physical fitness than to do nothing at all.

Most importantly, find the right balance between pushing yourself, but not being too harsh and self-defeating if you don’t manage something you set out to do. Just tell yourself it’s okay and try again the next day until you achieve your small goals, then increase them.

If you’ve chosen nursing as a career, you probably know what you need to do to stay in good shape. The challenge is putting this into practice. It’s important to you and your patients that you stay in shape because you want to set an example and be able to keep up with the physical demands of your role.