nurses4wellness blog.

Exercise: Every Step Counts April 2011

Dear Fellow Nurse,

A study published in JAMA last year provided women with some discouraging news, suggesting women need to exercise 60 minutes a day to maintain a healthy weight. “Who has an hour a day to exercise?” asked several women in a weight-loss program that I was leading. Sadly, the general feeling expressed was “What’s the point in even trying?”

If women (or men) can’t find a full hour in their day, the last thing we want them to feel is that there is no point in exercising at all. In my experience many people do not realize that you can accumulate your exercise in bouts of 10 – 15 minutes. You don’t necessarily need to exercise in a 30 – 60 minute stretch to benefit. A 10  minute walk, dancing for 15 minutes, 15 minutes of floor exercises while watching TV – it all adds up!

As nurses, we can help people increase their physical activity level by assisting them to find creative ways to be active, to set realistic exercise goals and to use behavioral modification techniques to stay motivated. Sure, it’s important to teach people the benefits of exercise, but it’s more important to help them make it happen!

Be well,

Janet Fontana, RN, MA

Leave Your Cares Behind

A workshop attendee once said, “If I thought of walking as exercise, I would never do it. When I think of it as my time, I can’t live without it.”

Free your mind and fully enjoy the experience of walking by practicing mindfulness:

1. Become aware of your breath

2. Feel the movements of your body

3. Open up all of your senses. What do you see, feel, smell and hear?

4. Whenever your mind drifts away from your experience, bring your awareness back to your breath and the walk.

“Each step brings you back to the present moment, which is the only moment in which you can be alive,” shares Thich Nhat Hanh. (see video on YouTube)

Spring into Action

Scientifically validated strategies to help you and/or others become more active:

• Self monitoring (journal, phone app, online tracking, pedometer)

• Goal setting (SMART goals; outcome/process goals)

• Contracting (written agreements, accountability)

• Feedback (checking in on progress)

• Problem solving (deal with variables, make adjustments)

• Stimulus/cues (an active friend, sneakers in your car, sticky notes, etc)

Take a look at Dr. Reiff-Hekking’s presentation handout to see how she puts these strategies together to help her clients increase their physical activity.

Nursing CE Program

Are you looking for ways to motivate yourself or others to stay physically active? Do you or your patients have a difficult time fitting exercise into a busy schedule? In her nursing CE webinar, “Getting Started and Staying Motivated to be Physically Active,” Dr. Sarah Reiff-Hekking, clinical psychologist and life coach, will teach you how to help people reach their physical activity goals.

Support a Cause

Boost your motivation to exercise by participating in an exercise-based fundraiser. Find an event that best suites you. By setting an inspiring outcome goal of raising money for a worthy cause, you are more likely to stick to your process goals – that is, the regular exercise you do to prepare.

Suggested Resources

Physical Activity Guidelines

Small Step, Get Active: Goals is a website to help you set activity goals.

Shape UpAmerica! Get Up and Go!

10,000 Steps a Day is a handout with information about pedometer use.

Map my walk & Map my run are websites where you can plan your routes.

Our Favorite Books:

Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Chris Crowley & Henry Lodge, MD

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise & the Brain – John Ratey, MD


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