Spring 2020

Welcome to the 2020 Spring edition of the Nurse & Midwife newsletter.

What a year it has been so far. We hope that you are looking after yourself and that you are taking some time for self-care.

As we go into spring we thought it was the perfect time to talk about the power of exercise.

We understand that there is varying restrictions in place depending on where you live. This may mean that you have limited opportunities to exercise right now but we have tried to give you a wide range of options, many of which can be done for free at home.

We hope you enjoy this edition!

The Nurse & Midwife Support team
100% of people found this helpful

walking to the top of stairs

In this issue . . .

Stepping into spring and returning to exercise
It feels like it's been a long winter as we have navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many exercise routines have been curtailed, dramatically altered or put on hold. Mark Aitken looks at some amazing stories to inspire you in getting moving. Get inspired.

Exercise - it matters!
Accredited exercise physiologist, Liz Hewett 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. Read the article.

Podcast: Exercise and physical activity with Liz Hewett
“If exercise was a supplement or a pill it would be a worldwide bestseller,” says Liz Hewett, an exercise physiologist and this episodes podcast guest! Listen to the podcast.

Building your relationship with exercise
For many of us exercise doesn’t necessarily come easily and is a relationship that we need to put time and effort into. A nurse shared her experience of changing this and what has worked for her. Read her story.

Exercise and pregnancy… You’ve got to be joking!
Given the fast-paced, on-your-feet, unpredictable work many pregnant nurses and midwives do, we want to remind you how important it is to look after YOU. Find out more.

Exercising through disruption
This year changes to routines and work environments may have impacted your exercise routine. Remember every little positive move you make assists to support your fitness! There is opportunity amongst the uncertainty to stay strong and give back to YOU. Find your motivation.

Stepping into spring and returning to exercise

stepping into exercise

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.

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

Exercise - it matters!

by Liz Hewett

women stretching in a pilates class

Accredited exercise physiologist, Liz Hewett 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.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you are a nurse or midwife interested in exercise. You may be in the twilight of your career, midway into it, having a career break or a student, graduate or early career nurse/midwife. Whatever stage you are at exercise and physical activity are important to your health and wellbeing.

Exercise vs. physical activity

You may notice I use the terms “exercise” and “physical activity”. Are they the same thing?

Technically, they aren’t. According to the World Health Organization, physical activity is any movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure and includes anything active from sport to gardening or housework.

Exercise is a type of physical activity, structured and prescribed specifically to improve aspects of physical health, like strength or aerobic fitness.

Both physical activity and exercise are good for us, in an amazing number of ways, for both health in the here and now, but also long term. If exercise was a pill, everyone would gladly take it every day, as it is full to the brim with the good stuff.

How much do we need?

We should all be accumulating over 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity. Twice weekly strength training can also prevent nasties such as cardiovascular disease or osteoporosis. 

What’s the difference between moderate vs. vigorous exercise?

Moderate physical activity involves a moderate amount of effort and a noticeable increase in heart rate.

Examples are:

  • brisk walking
  • dancing
  • gardening
  • housework
  • active involvement in games with children, and
  • carrying/moving loads <20kg.

Vigorous physical activity involves a large amount of effort, rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate.

Examples are:

  • running
  • fast cycling or swimming
  • uphill walking
  • aerobics
  • competitive sport
  • heavy manual labour e.g. digging, and
  • carrying/moving loads >20kg.

But I’m a busy nurse or midwife

Where does that leave working as a nurse or midwife? “I’m on my feet all day” is a common refrain from my nursing clients. You may be on your feet all day, but are you really walking or moving at sufficient intensity to meet the definition of moderate or vigorous intensity?

Duration is important, too. Anything is better than nothing, but you do have to be moving for several minutes at a pace brisk enough to elevate your heart rate to reap any benefit.

Being a nurse or midwife requires you to be strong and injury-free throughout your career.  The only way this can be achieved is through regular strengthening exercise outside work. Lifting or moving the odd patient, whilst demanding, is not done with sufficient frequency to build your strength.

A typical nursing or midwifery shift would not be active enough to substitute the need for physical activity outside work. The good news is that experimenting with exercise and physical activity is a big part of the fun of exercise. Embedding exercise into your life should be as natural as those things you do to benefit your health – just like cleaning your teeth!

Strategies for incorporating exercise into your life

Take a moment to reflect on what types of exercise and movement suits your lifestyle and personality best.

Do you prefer to exercise alone or with others?

Some people prefer solo activities. Introverts need time on their own to replenish their energy so they can go back into the world of communication and human interaction.

Other people find exercising with someone else helps with their commitment and motivation, as well as providing a distraction from the physical exertion. If you are impacted by COVID-19 restrictions this could mean committing to an online class with a friend so you can both join in from your respective homes.

There are also online groups that organise meet-ups, for example, there are some women only groups for walking at various times of the day and night, depending on what works for you. You can often find these on Facebook.

For those living in parts of Australia where they can attend in-person exercise classes, gyms, sports venues or group sessions – lap it up and enjoy it on behalf of those who are unable to!

You don’t even need to leave the house

Exercising at home may be a good option for you, here are some of the advantage and disadvantages:

Advantages – no travel, low cost, freedom to choose when you do your exercise, still open if your state has COVID-19 restrictions! Absence of intimidating fitness environments or perceived peer pressure/body image negativity.

Disadvantages – Lack of space or privacy issues with family or housemates, disturbances by pets and/or children, lack of equipment, and procrastination can be an issue due to the lack of structured timetables or set times.

Possible solutions to the disadvantages could include getting your family/housemates on board by setting aside time and/or space for exercise/movement. Move your cat or dog to another room while you are working out.

Equipment for the home can be purchased inexpensively and need not take up much room. Suggestions: exercise mat (>10mm for hard floors), resistance bands in multiple colours, micro bands are small looped bands that are great for upper and lower body work, dumb bells are versatile too; ankle weights can also double as upper body weights if they can be wrapped around the wrists securely.

Get out and about

If working out at home doesn’t appeal to you there are loads of other exercise options you might like to try:

  • Fitness centres: walking into a gym can be an intimidating thing to do, but using a gym has advantages for nurses and midwives. Most gyms have long opening hours so are ideal to work around your changing rosters, are relatively inexpensive compared to other activities. If group fitness is your thing, then check out the larger gyms with extensive timetables to suit your ever-changing schedule.
  • Yoga, Pilates, barre, dance, martial arts: if the idea of a hot, sweaty gym doesn’t seem appealing, you may be interested in engaging your mind whilst you move. By combining strength, flexibility and balance training with control and coordination, these activities have everything we need for physical health.

How did past experiences with exercise make you feel? Identify any positive memories and emotions as well as negative ones. What worked well for you? What didn’t go so well and why not? Acknowledge both sides to guide you towards movement and exercise you enjoy and the environment that suits you best.

Struggling to exercise?

If you struggle to exercise, reflect on why. Often we are harsh and self-critical, describing ourselves as lazy, when there may a valid reason, e.g. you’ve finished a week of nights, are exhausted, and the last thing you can think of is physical exertion. Are you really lazy, or perhaps finishing a draining set of shifts is not the time to expect yourself to be very physical?

A kinder response could be to walk outside to get fresh air or do something gentle, like yoga or Pilates. Plan and schedule a day or two as rest and recuperation days. Be kind. Be practical.

Often what we critically tell ourselves are excuses are actually valid barriers or reasons why exercise is hard to do.

Some frequently heard reasons for people not exercising:

  • I don’t have time
  • I’m too tired
  • I don’t feel fit enough
  • I need to lose weight first, and
  • I don’t have the money for: joining a gym/Pilates classes/join sports club.

I’ve also heard a lot in my career are that people are waiting for something to happen before they can start something new like exercise. Some examples:

  • I don’t feel fit enough to join a gym
  • I’ll start exercising next year after I finish studying
  • I’ll wait until I’m less tired, or
  • I’ll wait until I have more energy.

The difficulty with this approach is that we may always be busy, and commitments can increase as we get older and life changes. Any stage of your life is the perfect time to set yourself up as a regular mover and exerciser.

Yes, you will be tired from shift work/study/part-time work/family commitments. In reality, that will not change. Being active doesn’t have to be this big commitment that we need lots of time or money for. Start with small achievable bits of movement, be kind to yourself and if life gets in the way, start exercising again.

Get motivated

Mustering up the motivation to move can be hard if it’s dark, cold, too hot or if you’re tired. It may help to remember how good exercise can make you feel afterwards. Remember, or explore through trial and error, how different types of exercises make you feel, and this may help you get out of bed or off the couch. An exercise or movement session can make you feel more: alive, energised, relaxed, less tired, less stressed, invigorated, ready to face the day, taller, stretched. Yes, even if you were tired beforehand.

One of the most common reasons people exercise is to lose weight or to change the way you look. Now, this can be perfectly fine, but it is also a reason why some individuals struggle with exercise and can be one of the contributing factors for people stopping exercise. Find motivation to exercise other than your appearance to make physical activity a part of your everyday life.

Explore, recognise, acknowledge, accept and embrace movement in your life. Now is the perfect time in your life to delve into making movement a regular part of your routine and self-care.

Liz Hewett is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Strength & Conditioning Coach and Pilates teacher with over 20 years’ experience.

Podcast: Exercise and physical activity with Liz Hewett

by Liz Hewett

exercise and physical activity podcast

Nurses and midwives walk!

Nurses and midwives spend a lot of time walking.  A 2006 study published in MEDSURG Nursing, “How far do nurses walk?”, found that the 146 nurses studied walked an average of 4–5 miles during a 12-hour shift! That is almost 8 km!

Have you ever used a pedometer or step counting app when at work? I have. I regularly walked 15,000 steps on an 8-hour shift. Some of us might be justified thinking that is quite enough exercise for 1 day! While this is undoubtedly a large number of steps it’s considered incidental activity, and we need to exercise outside of our activities at work to keep in shape.

I explore this and other interesting facts in this podcast all about exercise.

What is an exercise physiologist?

Accredited exercise physiologists are university-qualified, allied health professionals who specialise in developing clinical exercise interventions. Exercise physiologists like Liz understand why exercise is important to health and well-being and can assist clients in finding the right type of exercise for every stage of life.

In the podcast we discuss the importance of establishing exercise as a routine, returning to exercise after injury or a break and making exercise an integral part of your self-care routine supporting you to enjoy your best life.

Exercise the best medicine

According to Liz, “If exercise was a supplement or a pill it would be a worldwide bestseller. It would be gladly taken every day by everybody. Moving and being physically active is seriously the best medicine that we can take for both prevention of health conditions, as well as treatment and managing the conditions that potentially don’t have an overall cure.

“The human body was built to move. If you think about our evolution as hunter/gatherers, always moving, we aren’t designed to sit still or stand all day. It really doesn’t make us feel very good. Our bodies simply feel better on so many levels when we move regularly.”

Liz reassures us that if you have fallen off the exercise wagon, you should be kind to yourself. Liz gives us advice and hope for how we can keep trying. If life gets in the way of being healthy, it will always get in the way. That's what life does. We just have to march on and get back into it.

So put on your runners, charge up your phone – download this podcast, put in your earphones and stride out the door as you engage in the joy of exercise. Your health matters!

If you would like to chat to someone you can call our confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877. Or visit our website for more tips on exercise and health.

Mark Aitken RN

Stakeholder Engagement Manager

Listen to the podcast here

Building your relationship with exercise

by Kim Leslie and Cassandra Jovic

love exercise

For many of us exercise doesn’t necessarily come easily and is a relationship that we need to put time and effort into. It’s understandable that at the end of a busy, physically intensive shift you might not feel like exercising, but it could very well be the key to your ongoing health and happiness.

Registered nurse Kim Leslie shares her experience of building a relationship with exercise and how she has maintained it over the years.

Kim is a 59 year old Associate Nurse Unit Manager for a day surgery in a large metropolitan health organisation and works a compressed four day weeks, doing 9 ½ hour shifts. Over the last 13 years she has built her relationship with exercise starting as someone who rarely exercised now its part of her daily routine. Here is her story.

Not a natural exerciser

About 13 years ago my relationship with exercise began to change. I was quite overweight and had injured my knee dancing at a family wedding. I was incapacitated for several weeks and it was a much-needed wake-up call. It was the first time in my life that I felt like my weight and overall health was having a marked influence on my quality of life.

My teenage children had started their own health journey and I just knew it was time, luckily everything came together and I was in a place where I could make the necessary changes. I made a big variation to my nutrition by joining a weight loss program and started to exercise daily. There were ups and downs along the way, but within 18 months I lost 46 kilos and I felt the healthiest I have ever felt. I’m happy to say that all of these years later I have continued to live a healthy life and I continue to enjoy the many benefits.

Getting Started

Be gentle with yourself as you get started, my first literal steps towards exercise were just walking around the block and slowly increasing how far I would go. It’s low impact, free and easy to do whatever your level of fitness is.

Whenever I have had a period of inactivity, walking continues to be my fail-safe. I just start walking those blocks again and soon I get back into the rhythm of it.

I find that walking can help clear my mind and to keep it interesting I walk different places, listen to podcasts or audio books and walk with family or friends.

Finding your motivation and what works

Finding the things that motivate me has been fundamental to maintaining my relationship with exercise. My motivations are always evolving as my life changes but the key is passion and attainable goals.

Feeling healthy is fundamental now that I know what that feels like I very quickly know if I don’t. I also value keeping up my fitness so that I can play with my grandchildren.  I still enjoy eating out at nice places and use exercise to offset my calorie intake.

Taking a moment to think about where you are at and what is achievable for you at the moment is always important. For example, having grown up children is a very different experience to having small kids who need you. Different stages in your career may also impact on this and life challenges will have an impact. Find what works for you right now, not just what you would like to do in the future and take small steps.

Setting goals

I often set myself short, medium and long term goals to keep myself interested. My short term goals can include things like exercising a certain number of days per week, reaching my step count target each day or even just parking my car further away when I go to the shops to add extra movement to my day.

Medium term goals are things like planning for a long day walk or more strenuous activity. Last year I walked from the outer eastern suburbs into Melbourne, which is about 22 KM as the crow flies. In the weeks leading up to it I had increased my daily walks and walked to my local shopping centre a few times in preparation

My long term goals usually coincide with big events or milestones. Travel is a passion for me and my husband and we often go on holidays where we can participate in activities.

A few years ago we toured around South America and we even walked up Huayna Picchu (Elevation: 2,720 m) which was quite a physical experience. In preparation, I had done a lot of walking and bike riding to build my conditioning and it was a hugely enjoyable experience.

Changing things up

Trying different things has been key as I can get a bit bored doing the same thing over and over. I don’t always love the activities I try to give them a fair go and f it’s not working I try something else.

Some of the activities I have enjoyed include:

  • walking
  • bike riding
  • step aerobics
  • aqua aerobics
  • No lights no lycra and
  • exercising at the gym.

If you aren’t enjoying something try a new activity — you just might find your new passion! Also, try and find someone to go with you, it’s always easier to stay on track if you have someone to keep you company.

Being in tune with my body

Since losing weight I am much more in tune with my body and I certainly feel it when my exercise and nutrition are out of kilter. I have had some ups and downs along the way, gaining some of the weight and falling back into old habits, but have consistently found a way back to healthy eating and exercise.

Particularly during and post-menopause when I’m not looking after myself, the effects on my mood and body are pronounced. I find that I need to keep on top of my health, otherwise I feel sluggish and it can also affect my sleep. My mood is more even when I exercise regularly. My mind has time to decompress and the movement helps me feel good.

Where to next

Once we get beyond COVID-19 I can’t wait to go on longer walks again further away from home. I also want to travel and walk around places like Japan and Ireland. There are lots of hills in my future!

As I get older I can feel that I am losing some of my strength which is something I would like to work on. I just need to find something I enjoy that will work for me.

But if all else fails I am just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other by walking. For anyone that isn’t sure whether it’s worth it, I want you to get yourself moving. It can be a bit of a hassle finding the time, but it’s worth it!

If you would like to chat with one of our team about getting moving or any other aspect of your health you can call us anytime on 1800 667 877 or email us.

Exercise and pregnancy… You’ve got to be joking!

by Lea Fitcher

exercise and pregnancy

You may be about to enter or have entered the most exciting, sometimes scary, overwhelming, life-changing and wondrous time of your life. So, of course, you want to give yourself and your baby the healthiest, best start.

Pregnancy for many women can be a very tiring time; you are growing another person which of course takes energy. The notion of exercising may seem like a joke, when really you would like to sit down with your feet up.

Add to that the fast-paced, on-your-feet, unpredictable work many pregnant nurses and midwives do, you may feel twice as much that just resting is the way to go. But while it is important to put your feet up we want to remind you how important it is to look after yourself and that exercise is a big part of staying healthy when you are pregnant. We hope these tips and resources support you to exercise safely to keep you and your baby well.

Exercise during pregnancy guidelines

If you’re unsure about exercising during pregnancy, the recommendations and guidelines from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) are an excellent place to start.

The first of these recommendations is evidence-based and states: “Women without contraindications should participate in regular aerobic and strength conditioning exercise during pregnancy.”

Benefits of regular exercise

The benefits of regular exercise for pregnant women without contraindications are well-established and include:

  • improved general wellbeing
  • better control of pregnancy weight gain
  • decreased subsequent risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension
  • maintained or increased fitness and muscle tone, and
  • the addition of pelvic floor exercises to an exercise regime in pregnancy will assist in improved recovery for woman who have a vaginal birth.

RANZCOG has a great summary of recommendations for exercise prescription during pregnancy to assist women to safely and confidently achieve the benefits that can be gained from regular exercise participation.

What about mindfulness and meditation?

Many practices involving breathing have evolved over the generations. Names differ, however all have a desired outcome of relieving, distracting or reducing the pain of childbirth. Mindfulness and meditation, using the breath, aid in decreasing distress and anxiety.

You can have more control during labour when you exercise and teach your mind to relax. The knowledge, and then the belief, that labour pain comes from wonderful uterine muscles contracting and relaxing, not pain from unnatural causes such as burns or cuts, can form part of mindfulness training and techniques during labour and birth.

What happens in your body?

The physiology of pregnancy is fascinating and a number of changes take place in your body to accommodate the growing foetus. These changes include:

  • Your normal centre of gravity changes, with baby, amniotic fluid, placenta and increased blood volume which has an effect on balance and coordination and the lumbar spine.
  • With the physiological vascular changes, especially in the second and third trimesters, your resting heart rate increases and maximal heart rate and blood pressure decrease. With this in mind, rapid posture changes should be avoided, heat and hydration status monitored.
  • The increased laxity of ligaments, primarily around the pelvis but also throughout the body, enables the enlarging uterus to have room. In all women, high agility activities should be avoided or undertaken with care.

By and large, being sensible about exercise during pregnancy is the key. Straight line or stationary activities (walking, jogging, swimming or cycling) and strength training can all be undertaken safely. Start exercising slowly and be mindful of any changes you feel.

If you’re unsure or you’re starting a new exercise program, speak with your doctor or midwife for additional support.

Helpful resources

Exercising through disruption

by Amy Benn

exercising through disruption

Amy Benn registered nurse, fitness guru and founder of Wholeheart Magazine has kindly shared some wonderful information about finding your motivation for fitness and lots of options that you can try.

A year of disruption

For many nurse and midwives, 2020 has served up unexpected challenges. The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to disrupt life and work as we know it, even as some states ease restrictions. While nurses and midwives have been front and centre caring for others during this challenge, it is still important to look after your own health and well-being.

Changes to routines and work environments may have impacted your movement patterns, exercise routines and emotional wellbeing. You may have adapted your exercise and routine to maintain fitness.

These changes may have contributed to your ability do those things that support you mentally, spiritually and physically to be your best self. Every little positive move you make assists to support your fitness! There is an opportunity amongst the uncertainty to stay strong and give back to YOU.

Changes and disruption:

You may be in lockdown, recently emerged from restrictions, or even still feeling impacted from the summer bushfires. Willpower and motivation are tested in times of stress. Finding a new normal with your exercise or movement routine after time away from your usual activities can be a challenge.

You may have experienced seasonal changes, being less active during the cooler months. Or, you could be working around an injury, health condition or life changes. It is important to take into consideration your unique circumstances and adapt your exercise routine accordingly.

Change your focus

Time away from your usual exercise routine can lead to an opportunity to shift focus. Perhaps finding a new approach to something you enjoy like a new gym program, trying something completely different like yoga or swimming, or just taking things into a new environment. There are lots to consider in times of change.

Utilise your health care team, such as an exercise physiologist or personal trainer while adhering to physical distancing requirements. Many have adapted to teleconference sessions and online classes or sessions.

Physical changes

Compassion and humility are essential, as life including our bodies change. From the way we look, to the way we function, and to the way we feel.

There may be a need to grieve as certain phases in our lives end, and new beginnings emerge. There is opportunity to adapt and refocus our goals that are meaningful to the stage of life you are at which facilitates overall health, wellbeing and longevity.

For example, regaining cardiovascular fitness or mobility after pregnancy, an injury, operation or time away from exercise can be difficult. Take your time and be kind to yourself as you start exercising again.


Time away may have highlighted the need or desire to move on from a previous exercise routine or environment. Perhaps you have outgrown running, and need to do some yoga, you may need to switch the gym for at-home workouts, and maybe you are just not missing what you were previously doing. Your netball/basketball/football season may have been cancelled. This is a great opportunity to reassess and contemplate alternatives.


Take things slowly, and gradually, allow for changes in your routine, building the habit of just showing up to exercise is more important than actually completing anything.

Wearing the right clothing to exercise, setting up a space to roll out your mat in your lounge or garage or purchasing the right equipment, shoes, or walking jacket are big steps that need to be considered and celebrated.

Try to let go of expectations of functionality, weight loss or performance, and allow yourself to be a beginner, just like when you were a graduate nurse or midwife.


When exercising from home, creating a safe space is pivotal. Things to consider include:

  • Making sure you warm up when exercising to help to prevent injuries.
  • Having a window near to ventilate the room.
  • Enough space to be able to move freely, this may include decluttering your environment or putting things away in cupboards.
  • Other people and children may need consideration, so perhaps find a regular time that is suitable to carve out for you, like before anyone wakes up in the morning.  

Exercise outside

Being a nurse or a midwife gives you the upper hand in understanding the principles of infection prevention and control when exercising in public spaces. It is about being compassionate and educating the public in our day to day lives, to help others keep us, and the community safe.

This may involve:

  • less selfies
  • wearing masks 
  • educating others 
  • providing your own hand sanitizer, wipes and towels or masks and not relying on others, or 
  • thinking about how you use your water bottle.

Some activities to do outdoors

  • Bike Riding: Looking up riding paths is easy on Google Maps, and a great way to see your neighbourhood from a new perspective and cover more ground than walking. 
  • Golf: It may be a new opportunity to get some fresh air and appreciate the difficulty connecting the club and the ball.

Find a running buddy

Many local athletics tracks have lights on later into the evening, even if you just go for a brisk walk and get some fresh air. Finding a regular partner to run with has been pivotal in supporting my running, even when I didn’t want to, and pushed me further than I anticipated.


Enjoying your neighbourhood on foot, taking in the sights in the crisp mornings, or as the sun sets can be a great way to finish your day, enjoy fresh air and outdoor time that can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

Increase your incidental movement

Ask yourself if there are some activities you can build into your day to get yourself moving a bit more.

For example:

  • walking to get your morning coffee
  • walking to pick up groceries (carrying them can add some resistance on the way home, and perhaps make you a more conscious consumer)
  • run errands, or
  • park a little further away from your destination.

Try a new form of exercise:

If you have a small space set up, or you are looking at getting into something new, perhaps trying: a dance class, body-weight workouts, stretching, yoga, Pilates or meditation.

Exercise apps can be an easy way to create an at-home exercise routine. A few popular apps and websites include:

A useful strategy may be to keep an exercise journal, contemplate and write down:

  • the things that you enjoy
  • the things you can do, and
  • perhaps one new exercise you want to try.

For example, you may enjoy walking, and you may be nursing a back injury, gentle body weight stretches or yoga may be an option for you. You might like to try the Alltrails app, to have some more variety for walking tracks, and you might like to try Alo Moves and include two gentle yoga sessions in your weekly routine for flexibility.

However you choose to exercise ensure that you enjoy it, have fun, be safe and celebrate your achievement.

Amy Benn

Fitness guru
Founder Wholeheart Magazine

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