Stepping into spring and returning to exercise

Mark Aitken
Welcome to the spring 2020 exercise edition of the Nurse & Midwife Support newsletter.

It feels like it's been a long winter while we have navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many exercise routines have been disrupted or dramatically altered as a result.

stepping into exercise

Your stories matter

I continue to hear stories from nurses and midwives all over Australia about the trials and tribulations the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges thrown at them. Incredible stories of hardship, exhaustion, creativity, agility, support, mateship, success and resilience. I’m writing this as many nurses and midwives in Melbourne and some other parts of Australia care for those affected by the COVID-19 virus.

This quote from Abbey at the Royal Melbourne Hospital resonated with me:

“I’ve watched my colleagues sacrifice every piece of themselves in the fight against this pandemic and I watch them do it with such integrity, strength and grace that I am constantly in awe of all I have witnessed them achieve”

Sobering and poignant words. A big thank you to the nurses and midwives of Australia for the incredible work you have done, and continue to do caring for communities during the pandemic and beyond.

In this International Year of the Nurse and Midwife we want to celebrate you! We want to hear the stories of passionate nurses and midwives. Share your story to go into the running to a major prize — we’ll provide AUD$1000.00 towards conference attendance or education for one nurse and one midwife. Enrolled nursing or midwifery students are also eligible!

Looking after yourself and others

Nurse Abby ended her video with the message “Take care of one another.” This is a message I harp on about and include take care of YOU.

For many exercise is a key part of self-care. For others, it can evoke anxiety.

During the first COVID-19 lock-down there were hilarious and heart-warming videos and memes posted about people adapting their exercise routines for home and using exercise to raise money to support frontline health care workers. My favourite is the video of 99-year-old Tom Moore, British veteran, who raised 16 million pounds ($30 million) for the National Health Service by walking laps of his garden.

I watched many for inspiration as I considered how to adapt my exercise routine. Many made me laugh, which was much needed humour in challenging times. Nurses and midwives are renowned for laughing in the face of adversity. It can be our way of coping. Is laughter a form of exercise? I reckon a big belly laugh is.

Life. Be in it.

I grew up in a family addicted to exercise. Growing up in the 1970s, I’m old enough to remember “Life. Be in it.” This Australian Government program and advertising campaign encouraged people to be more active and take part in recreational sports or other physical activities.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm referring to, check out this video.

My family jumped on-board the “Life. Be in it” juggernaut — I reckon my folks invented boot camp! Resistance was futile. It cemented my lifelong commitment to exercise. From family swimming competitions, tennis, table tennis, cricket, street kick to kick footy, netball, hockey, aerobics, step reebok, dancing, yoga, gym, hiking, Pilates – I could go on! Some member of my family gave most forms of exercise a crack. Over the years my exercise interests changed and opportunities were limited by shift work or derailed by injury.

Exercise and wellbeing

Exercise and physical activity are part of my life that provides joy, happiness, social connections and assist wellbeing. I didn’t appreciate the difference between exercise and physical activity until I spoke to exercise physiologist Elizabeth (Liz) Hewett while researching this newsletter. Liz’s article in this newsletter explores the difference between exercise and physical activity, the importance of exercise to the health and well-being of nurses and midwives, and the fitness challenges experienced by some in the profession. We also discuss all this and more on our podcast.

Kim Leslie is an RN who has built her relationship with exercise over the past few years. She has shared her story, an inspirational read for anyone who doesn’t know how to get started.

Amy Benn RN has again contributed to our newsletter with tips and strategies for making exercise part of your daily routine and how to adapt your exercise to changed circumstances.

Lea Fitcher RM provides information, resources, encouragement and sage advice to pregnant nurses and midwives.

Getting inspired

Whether or not you enjoy exercise, I hope this edition of our newsletter gives you some inspiration, renewed vigour, resources, tips and ignites your exercise passion and assists you to sprint, skip, hop or dance into spring.

Remember if you would like any support with anything, including how to integrate exercise into your life, you can call our confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877 or access our website articles.

Your health matters.

Mark Aitken
RN Stakeholder Engagement Manager
Nurse & Midwife Support