The health and aged care sector includes public and private hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, residential aged care, day procedure centres, GP practices, allied health services and veterinary services.
Every day in the healthcare industry is different from the next, and work in this field provides many rewards and challenges. Health and aged care practitioners come in to contact with a range of people and patients each day and face high pressure situations that require efficient and effective management.
Hours of work vary and many nurses and doctors are often on-call for long stretches or working 12+ hour night shifts, and then have a few days off.
Most workplace injuries in the health sector are musculoskeletal disorders caused by unsafe manual handling tasks such as lifting and moving people, as well as pushing and pulling patient trolleys and equipment.
For workers, this can mean pain and discomfort which sometimes lasts for years, affecting not only their work but their everyday lives, families and relationships. For employers, these injuries can lead to workers’ compensation claims and higher costs, and can diminish workplace morale and productivity.
Getting the recommended amount of sleep is also a big concern for shift workers, and probably the biggest barrier to exercise. Sleep of less than 6 hours per night has been directly linked to physical inactivity and obesity, with poor sleep associated with increases in the production of the “stress hormone” cortisol in the brain.
Due to the nature of your job, the demands on your mental and physical well-being require attention.
The right exercise can assist in:
Schedule exercise at a time that you can follow through with
When’s the best time to work out? When you will actually do it! If you find yourself too exhausted after your 12 hour shift then get your workout done before you go to work, even if you only have twenty minutes! Alternatively, do it at and during work!
Plan out your day
We understand your hours can be difficult. That’s where planning in advance can really help. Spending 5 minutes identifying when and where you can add little bit of movement means you’re more likely to actually follow through with it.
Every little bit counts
An easy way to add activity into your day is to increase your bouts of incidental activity. Every step counts, so when moving around the hospital or clinic try using the stairs instead of the elevator. If you have a pedometer or fitbit, try counting your steps per day and see if you can beat 10,000. Why not try a squat or calf raise you’re waiting for the kettle to boil?
Practice appropriate self-care
When you’re looking after others it’s important to execute proper self-care to ensure you are working at your best. When you do have that work break, try and exercise. Bring your running shoes to walk and try to walk or run in your lunch break. Alternatively, use the time to perform core strength exercises in the lunch room.
The idea of stretching before, during and after work seems quite foreign to most. However, when you consider the duration and intensity of the physical work required each day it makes sense to schedule it into your regime. For information on how to best stretch and the areas of muscle to focus on, speak to your Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
Use proper technique when bending or lifting
A no-brainer, but something people quickly become complacent about. Spend the extra time to lift safely so that you avoid the pain of injury and forced time away from work.
Give your body a break to avoid injury
When performing a repetitive physical task at work, have regular breaks to allow your body rest and recovery time.
Onsite exercise programs
Participate in an onsite work-specific strength and conditioning program. Not only will work and exercise with your colleagues, you’ll start working towards a collective goal ‘Get fit for work’. Like athletes, you must also be conditioned for the job you do. Start a resistance training program that is tailored to correcting posture, increasing strength and decreasing muscular imbalances that could lead to an injury. Time to be an occupational athlete!
Find a time to exercise that you can make consistent
Aim to exercise at a time you can consistently complete your program each day. Consistency is the key!
Consult an accredited exercise professional
As your schedule is busy, it would be best to assess time management. An accredited exercise professional will review your current work/life balance and provide with specific exercise program tailored to your needs.