5 Exercise Moves for Nurses

Exercise for nurses

Exercise is key to a quality life and a long career. Nursing students are probably aware that the career they have chosen comes with physical challenges. According to a special series from NPR, “Nursing employees suffer 35,000 back and other injuries every year.” Lifting and moving patients, stretchers, and medication carts can strain backs, and lots of time on one’s feet and walking around means legs are getting a workout.

Yoga and Pilates are whole-body exercise routines that increase fitness and flexibility. Running or walking will help build and sustain stamina for those long shifts. Look for a gym or yoga studio near you, or check out YouTube.com for free workout routines to do at home. To keep up your motivation, exercise with a partner or friend, or even start a Facebook group to keep you accountable.

Just having an active job like nursing or EMS means you’re getting plenty of exercise. Staying flexible and targeting certain muscle groups can prevent injury. Here are some exercise moves to enhance core muscles, legs, and shoulders. Proper form is key, so you may want to work with a personal trainer to make sure you’re doing these correctly.

Proper form for doing a lunge
Proper form for doing a lunge


Lunges work quads and glutes, muscles in the upper legs. Make sure when you do them, the knee on the leading leg doesn’t extend over the ankle.

Elbow plank position
Elbow plank position


This move looks simple enough, but it will challenge your whole body, from shoulders, through your core, and into your hamstrings. Build up time holding it, starting with 10 seconds and building up to a minute or two.

Man doing squat.
Squat exercise


Another leg and lower back exercise that will help when you are lifting and moving patients. To start the move, pretend you’re sitting down in a chair. Make sure to keep your back straight; don’t round it. As you get stronger, you can add weights, or do jump squats.

Shoulder shrug exercise
Shoulder shrug exercise

Shoulder shrugs

The small group of muscles around the shoulders are often forgotten in workouts. This move targets them specifically, and will make doing other arm exercises easier on your shoulder joints.

Superman move
Superman move


Another great move that targets the back from the shoulders through the glutes. And appropriately named for nurses, who do so much for so many people!

Before you start working out, consult your healthcare provider to make sure you’re healthy enough. Always warm up before you exercise, and remember to do a cool down and stretch when you are done.

For more information and options, see some of the links below:

From NurseLabs.com, 5 Types of Exercises Nurses Need to Do
From nursetogether.com, 3 Strength-Building Exercise Programs for Nurses
From nursetogether.com, Strengthen Your Back with 5 Simple Exercises for Nurses

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