Exercise, Fitness and Nursing.

by Jennifer Smith, Registered Nurse, Australia

Working as a nurse, I spend a great deal of time standing and walking during my work day. I could easily say that I would walk 5kms most days as part of my job. I used to think that I was getting plenty of exercise during my day, at work and that would suffice for regular daily exercise. So other than the activity that I would do at work, I did no exercise.

I loved walking, but would only walk if it meant that I was travelling from point A to point B. This worked quite well for me when I use to live in a city and relied on public transport, but once I moved to a country area I needed to use my car all the time. So the ‘incidental exercise’ and walking that I did came to a standstill.

Fitness and exercise as a young adult, was also very goal driven for me. There was an area of work that I was keen to join that required a certain level of fitness. I was very determined to get into this line of work, so I pushed myself very hard so that I could run so far, do so many sit-ups and push-ups, all within in a certain time frame. I can honestly say that I didn’t enjoy any of it and I had a particular dislike for running, but I had to do it. I was determined to get into this job. Once I was in, there was no need for me to continue this style of exercise, so I stopped and did nothing.

It’s interesting to reflect on the beliefs I had around exercise. It had to have a purpose. Walking was to get somewhere and pushing myself to get into this job was me trying to be someone. I had no sense of true enjoyment in any of the physical activity that I was doing. I always had a sense, though that I needed to walk and move my body but I didn’t quite know where to start, so…..I did nothing.

Over the last 2 or so years I have gradually made changes to how I care for myself with my eating patterns, how I rest and sleep. The fact that I did no exercise and hadn’t done any for years was becoming an issue I knew I needed to address. I had an opportunity to attend a gentle exercise class, so I did.

The first thing that surprised me was how my body really felt the workout, even though it was gentle and I was only doing as many repetitions of an exercise as I felt to. So I wasn’t pushing myself. I had no sense that I had to better or improve myself. The next thing I noticed was how enjoyable it was to exercise in this way. So enjoyable, that I’ve kept it up and even returned to the gym.

The thing that surprises me the most and is the most delicious aspect of exercising in this way is how lovely I feel at the gym or while going for a walk. There’s no trying or pushing or improving. It’s all about listening to my body and doing exercise that supports me at the pace that I feel.

The effect on my work as a nurse is amazing. My general fitness levels have increased dramatically. Travelling through a shift, caring for sick patients and dealing with the general running of a ward/hospital have become physically easier. I don’t get so tired.

Recently I noticed I was tired after a morning shift. I’d convinced myself that I was so tired that I could not possibly go for a walk, even though I knew I needed to do something physical. What I realised though, with the assistance of a very wise Universal Medicine Practitioner, is that I had been taking on all of the events, issues and emotions of the day and perhaps what I needed to do was actually walk after work.

I had 7 shifts in a row coming up, the majority of them mornings. The perfect opportunity to do an experiment!

So I took myself for a walk after all of those morning shifts. The moment I started walking, I could really feel in my body what I had taken on. My arms and shoulders especially felt so tight and heavy. As I walked, I had a sense that I was releasing the day that I had taken on. When I got home, I noticed how my energy had re-balanced itself so that I wasn’t drained and had plenty of energy for being at home in the evening. A 7 day in a row stint is usually viewed in nursing with dread. But my experience showed me that with commitment and understanding of how to truly care for my body, I can remain energised and vital, during and after work.

I now realise how important daily exercise and especially walking is for me, but also for the people I nurse and come into contact with during my day. The more I care for me, the more I can care for them.

So it is, with a spring in my step I’m off for a walk.

Inspired by Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine.

472 thoughts on “Exercise, Fitness and Nursing.

  1. What I’m learning is that it’s not just about what you do in work, but how you apply yourself to life after work, and whether you can maintain the same level of application and commitment to all the other moments in life, and that begins to build a different kind of fitness, perhaps you could call it a fitness of focus.

  2. I love walking it has become part of my daily medicine, I work shift work as well and the walking has increased my energy levels and supports me to wind down after working any long shift hours.

  3. Exercise is amazing – I sit 10-15 hours a day at a computer but walk for 50 minutes and do weights for 10 minutes and my health is great. This seems to be what I need given my lifestyle.

  4. And with so many people becoming so deskbound and computer orientated in their jobs, articles like this, and this awareness, is absolutely essential to prevent humanity turning into one big blancmange

  5. This has been very helpful to read as I have just started caring for the elderly on the weekends and have found the early morning till nine at night quite full on, even though I have the opportunity for a nap or a rest halfway through the day, I still feel drained the next day.

    1. Yes, a lot depends on how we are during the day. There are work environments that are draining but often we can work in a way that is just as effective but leaves us with a lot of energy in the evening – tired, yes, but not necessarily drained.

  6. Today is the shortest day of the year so one might think that our walking time is limited which is true to a certain extent. For me there is very little time when it is light before going to work and coming home it is always already dark. Recently I have been choosing to walk a little at lunch time which i find refreshing and revitalising and sometimes I have a short walk at night appreciating and communicating with the stars. I find this also very supportive.

  7. Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing about walking when feeling tired after morning shifts. That is very inspiring and I would like to try that. I walk every morning for the first half of the way to work and get on a bus for the rest of the journey; but after work, I am so tired I just get on a bus and at times even fall asleep on my way home.

  8. A big shift came for me when I began listening to the call to exercise coming from my body. I no longer exercise because I think I should or because I want thinner thighs, I exercise because my body tells me it wants to move in a certain way. I either go for a walk, do some gentle stretching or in the summer go to the local pool and if I honour what my body has communicated, I’m left feeling divine (and not worn out or tired like I used to be after pushing myself to exercise).

  9. I have come to realise that when I go for a walk with me, not to go from a to b, but just to connect more deeply to myself I get to feel really revived, and less tired than when I started.

  10. Fitness is important for the wellbeing of a nurse… not only exercise fitness for cardiovascular health, but there has to be an emotional and mental fitness that supports the nurse to work in a busy, demanding often emotionally charged environment. Emotional and mental fitness involves knowing oneself, knowing when to take a moment to reconnect to their body and feel the quality of themselves, as this is moment to recharge, to self care, so not to drain their body at the expense of caring for others. Emotional fitness is also exercising and practising the ability to not gossip, talk about others, bad mouth, judge, compare or quiet whisper conversations in a corner as this activity is draining for all and drags down the integrity of a healing environment, where patients are recuperating.

  11. I’ve been finding the same, I’ve recently bought a simple treadmill and been using it at home daily and it makes a huge difference, and I’m doing simple walking nothing fast and I can feel a new solidness in me, in my body which really supports me in my days. What I feel in what you’ve discussed here is exercise when approached as a way to just be with and feel our bodies is deeply healing.

  12. ‘It’s interesting to reflect on the beliefs I had around exercise.’ For me, from very young, exercise has always been associated with others or myself wanting to look a certain way, usually to lose weight, and I hated it. Today I appreciate it and might even go so far to say I enjoy my (mostly) daily 30-minute gym visit. Like you Jennifer, I can feel how it supports me in my day and with my health. And I like the way it feels. It’s not to say the old thoughts don’t creep in from time to time, but I don’t take them on anymore.

  13. I had an incredibly physical job for a year where I got very fit and toned. That was over 7 years ago now and for a good majority of those 7 years I cruised along thinking that my level of fitness then was going to carry me through life without having to support myself in any other way! Needless to say I have now got honest with myself and am taking steps to reconnect to my lovely body, gently strengthening and stretching myself to become fit for life.

  14. Very cool, I carried a belief that because my job is so active and physical that I already “do exercise” with how much I walk in a shift but when I cut the rubbish and was more truthful with myself although my little story sounded good in my head, I knew something had to give and my body was crying out for a different type of exercise. So I took the plunge and signed up for my very first ever gym member ship, I went this morning and I feel great, look forward to my own little program and I will be clocking the difference for sure.

  15. The more you can care for you then the more you can care for your patients is an incredibly important concept to embrace. So many tick boxes with regards to the requirements of their positions, but to truly offer a healing from a body that reflects true care for self is a blessing beyond measure inspiring others in what is possible to live.

  16. I have been really appreciating my walks the last few days and the ease with which my body moves and the joy I feel moving with me in nature. A complete contrast to how I used to exercise and how punishing it was for my body. I have recently committed to a regular Connective Tissue exercise programme which complements my daily walks beautifully and has supported me during a particularly busy period at work.

  17. Whenever we push ourselves we are listening and following something such as a belief, picture, expectation etc., which is not coming from our body but from something that is outside of ourselves. We are disconnected to self, everything and everyone and this way of being keeps us stuck in our ways, deepening the separation to each other in the world. Walking with purpose to connect to the body supports our wellbeing, feeling vital committing to life supporting us to take care of ourselves and the wellbeing of others.

  18. In exercising and walking regularly I can feel the support this gives to my body and my essence. As I support my body more, it feels lighter and clearer, this in turn allows for my essence to be felt, honored and lived. Gentle exercise and walking should never be underestimated, committing to both has changed my life.

  19. This is gorgeously shared Jennifer, highlighting for me how our movements magnify whatever quality we are choosing. And so, in choosing to be in connection to ourselves, our movements then are a confirmation of who we are, reflecting what is not true in order for us to magnify more of who we are through our body. At the end of the day it is this quality that feels natural and vital in our bodies.

  20. Thank you Jennifer, there are still beliefs I hold about exercise that puts me off a more steady commitment, as well as the way I used to exercise which was really self critical and not loving – to have a certain body shape etc and with no true consideration to the body. This is a great line about maintaining vitality for life and work and that it can be done “with commitment and understanding of how to truly care for my body”.

  21. Jennifer, you’ve got me thinking. I finish a day at work, often looking forward to going home, once I get there I am straight in the kitchen preparing my dinner. I give myself no moments to stop nor do I allow myself to process the day and feel whether I have taken stuff on or not. The concept of going for even a short walk after work to feel where I’m at sounds brilliant and something that I will consider.

  22. Jennifer thank you for sharing your experience, I have found going for a walk very supportive myself as it allows me space to reconnect back to myself, and at the same time it rejuvenates me at the same time.

  23. Jennifer I agree it is easy to justify not to walk, putting it off for another time! When I get started, I truly enjoy the experience. I love walking in the early morning but sometimes I will tell myself that my day will be full enough not to walk. If I make the effort, I reap much reward in doing so, usually in the form of the magic of God. Beautiful birds or a rainbow, a lovely smile and more.

  24. It is interesting how we define purpose. I used to define ‘it’s got to have a purpose’ being very goal orientated and something in the future but this meaning of the word purpose no longer sits with me. I am pondering with ‘what if the true meaning of purpose was actually presence?’ How I am with myself, the quality with which I am expressing and being present with my body? This defines a whole and new meaning of the word purpose.

  25. I’ve experimented with taking extra care of myself when I know I have a few intense days coming up. And I can safely say that the difference in myself was huge. The way I was able to deal with the intensity, and how I was overall was very different to how I had been in other similar times. My lesson from that is to maintain the care 24/7, building a consistent way of being which will support me every day and especially on those unexpected days of high stress.

  26. Re-reading your blog is a great reminder to re-start with gentle exercising. My body gives me very clear signals, as in being tired and low in vitality. After I have moved house, getting a job in a nursing home I did not pick up exercising again and I know my body loves the support and the care of this gentle movements and attention.

  27. Walking to feel and let go of the tension held in the body is a beautiful free prescription for us all.

  28. Thank you Jennifer, this is a great experiment you did and I like what you found out. It shows that it isn’t complicated to look after ourselves and that it can be found in a simple walk. No money spent but much gained.

  29. I have had a similar experience discovering a more gentle way to exercise Jennifer, and really enjoy feeling and listening to my body whilst moving with it, that feels truly supportive and best of all as you say there is no focus on trying, pushing or improving, just the freedom and ease in listening to my body and feeling how my body wants to move at a pace that feels right.

  30. Now that it’s getting lighter in the mornings here in the UK, I have restarted doing a 20 minute morning walk before I go to work. It is something I am really enjoying and I can see how beginning my day like this supports me to deal with the rest of the day.

  31. There is nothing like being outside, in nature and walking, feeling our feet in relation to the ground and our body in relation to all around us. There is magic everywhere if we choose to feel and see it and a daily walk can reconnect us back to that magic. It can bring us back in touch with ourselves and make us feel whole again. Surrendering to the body as we walk deepens this process and brings us more confidence in life.

  32. There is a true purpose in exercise that works hand in hand in delivering true purpose in our workplace. I too work in a field where there is a lot of moving and levels of fitness are required to maintain the pace in order to manage the tasks of the day. When I choose not to make the commitment to exercise regularly I can feel how this does not support me in the day and brings in more movements that are disjointed or unnecessary complications. A simple 10 minute walk is still an opportunity to bring it all back to purpose.

  33. So true in my 20 years of experience as a Physiotherapist that people are turned off exercise very often because of the way it is taught and presented. When you introduce people to gentle exercise that is truly supportive of their body and their being and does not impose or push their bodies, as I do in my clinical practice, they enjoy it way more and engage with it much more.They actually really want to do it because they can feel how supportive it is.

    1. It is true Andrew, most exercise hurts and we can feel it is harming us. It involves us ignoring the pain and discomfort. Not a great way to treat our one and only precious body. Gentle exercise is definitely the way as no exercise which most adopt who don’t want to push themselves through the pain is a slow death.

  34. Amazing timing to read this! I walk all the time, all day long in my job so I was thinking that this was my exercise. But today I had a change of heart and I felt I needed to go for a walk after working all day. I loved taking in the views and feeling wrapped up against the cold so I came back feeling very refreshed and relaxed. Reading this has also been a great reminder to let go of my day through walking, letting go of all the things I have taken on. Thank you.

  35. Awesome. In the last few days I have had a run of late nights and my body has been left feeling headachey and exhausted. In reading this I realise I have let go of my daily walks too, justifying the amount I have walked in the day as I go about my work as being enough. I shall start to bring walks back in my daily round, as well as more quality stop moments and rest. I think I am too busy for this sometimes and it won’t matter if I miss a few walks and stop moments and rest but if I do this all at the same time I have taken away the very support that I have been building for myself and everything suffers.

  36. There is a way to move by which we attune ourselves in and with the greater movements of the Universe. This is way simpler than it perhaps sounds, and requires us to simply move in full and conscious presence with both our mind and our body in accordance with each other as opposed to how we normally move which is the head racing a-head (!) and the body being dragged along behind. By moving in this way, with our body and mind working together, we are thus able to restore the harmony to both our body and the being we at some stage took leave of when we moved out of rhythm to this.

  37. Going for a walk can very revealing and a great marker as to where I am at. Often walking can show me the raciness I have been living in and as I feel it, it begins to clear and I am left walking at a pace where I am with my body and not running in the momentum that is driving from my head. So not only is walking great exercise but I can vouch too that walking is a great way to clear energy which I have taken on.

  38. There is a quiet intelligence in recognising the link between vitality at work and our fitness levels. For it makes sense whatever job you are in that having a strong body will make the day easier to manage. Perhaps the reason so many don’t apply this intelligence is because we have created a belief through experience that exercise is hard, unpleasant and not an enjoyable experience. This is where we can all re-define our relationships with exercise, making building strength in the body a gradual, easy and enjoyable activity that we actually look forward to. This sharing by Jennifer shows the rewards of doing so.

    1. The reference to it making sense to have a strong body to manage your job is so true Stephen G. In many cases people are working longer hours and in jobs where there is either huge or moderate levels of movement. We all fall into various levels with our job but the core ingredient here is the vitality. This is the responsibility and commitment to build a body that can support us throughout the day so that we are bringing our best and feeling the best. A great benefit for all.

  39. life is about energy as everything is energy and when we see exercise in this light then we notice that it is not only about the physical exercise but much more to build an energetic fitness in which we make the space to be able to concern that energies that do not belong to our body and to let go these more easily.

  40. So many people walk, but how many walk as Jennifer shares here, in connection and present with our body, prepared to feel how it feels, and let it be, to release any of the day’s tension?
    I see so many walking with the only connection happening being to the headphones that are plugged into their ears. Can it be possible that walking this way doesn’t allow us to feel our bodies, and so not feel the strain and stress of the way we may be walking, for example fast and pounding, and in fact is causing our joints great harm? Can it be that the necessity of many to not be present and still in the body is the greatest harm to humanity?

    1. So true Leigh – it is exhausting to move in disconnection to ourselves. However the opposite is also true in the sense that it can be completely revitalising to move in connection with ourselves and the all we are a part of. Our every movement has the propensity to either heal or harm. This includes the movement of inertia!

  41. Jennifer I have found that light exercise or a walk are great ways to feel refreshed after work, for me it gives me time to feel how my body is and also relate those feelings to my day, if part of my body is stiff it may be that I got caught in the drive of the day, or I didn’t sit in my chair in a way that is supportive because I had been tightening up in order to protect myself from the conversation in the office, it’s a great way to wind down from work too.

  42. Its easy to drop the exercise in my routine when things get busy, but I am realising this is when I need it the most, because it supports my body to cope with the extra work load and not get exhausted. Going for a walk sounds like a great thing to do at the end of a working day. I may try it as an experiment for January and see how it goes.

  43. Thanks for the reminder Jen about how nourishing walking can be – it can re-vitalise us as all the tension we’ve taken on dissipates and is released from our body. The more I incorporate a walk into my day the more I appreciate the benefits of walking – not to get anywhere, just to connect to my body, even if it’s 2 minutes around the block, it’s something I never regret doing.

  44. ‘too tired for a walk or going to the gym’ is something I can go into now and then but always when I choose to go against this ‘giving up’ feeling in myself and go for a walk or go to the gym my body feels supported and re energised, warm and lovely because of the gentle way I am treating it.

  45. Nothing beats a walk. A walk allows us to become naturally self reflective, so is great for a daily update on our relationship with ourselves.

  46. Very inspiring Jennifer, I could identify with the feeling too tired to go for a walk and also with the releasing of tension and the re-energising effect a short walk can have. So I am going to commit to doing this more regularly myself.

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