Fitting in any kind of self-care on a travel nursing contract can seem challenging at times, especially when it comes to exercise. Moving your body can have wonderful benefits for your mental and physical health – which can be great in helping combat burnout. You’d be surprised how many options there are for incorporating exercise into your travel nurse routine, as long as you keep it simple and set attainable goals. Here are a few pro tips for staying on top of your fitness game while on a travel contract.
1. Pick up one (portable) piece of exercise equipment
If you do nothing else, consider bringing just one favorite piece of equipment with you on your travel assignment. It could be a set of dumbbells, a kettle bell, a pair of ankle/wrist weights, or a resistance band. You will be amazed at how effective a workout can be with just one piece of equipment. Take the trusty resistance band for example: from squats to leg raises to lunges-in-place, the possibilities are endless.
2. Rent a bike
Hopping on a bike is a great way to fit low-impact, high-reward exercise into your routine. Many local bike shops offer rentals by the month, and there are even pay-per-use bike stations if you’re working in a bigger city. Biking is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air while seeing the sights of your new town.
3. See if your facility offers exercise resources
Did you know that some hospitals have an on-site gym for employees? This makes fitting in a workout easy for RNs to exercise on their lunch breaks, or before or after their shifts.
If your facility doesn’t have an on-site gym, check in with employee wellness or HR about what kind of fitness resources are offered–you may be able to snag a temporary free pass to a local gym or access some at-home fitness apps to help you stay on track. Your insurance company may have some fitness benefits you can tap into as well, so be sure to check what benefits they offer too.
4. Plan ahead
Most travel nurses want to make the most of each assignment by taking advantage of exploring each new area on their days off; and days off can fill up fast when you have a bucket list of things you want to see or do in thirteen weeks. If you know you have some travel or exploring planned on your days off, take some time to look ahead and figure out how to get a workout in around all your adventuring. This could mean getting up a little early and squeezing in a 15–25 minute workout or hitting the gym before or after a long shift on one of your workdays so you can enjoy the rest of the day. Regardless of how you make it happen, set a realistic goal of how many days you want to work out each week, so you have something to shoot for that allows for life to happen as well.
5. Don’t forget to have fun
One of the most common reasons people fail at changing their exercise routines is they take an all-or-nothing approach. They go all-in: eliminate anything “unhealthy”, make a plan to exercise six days a week, and refuse to make room for actually enjoying themselves.
Travel nurses choose their lifestyle because it is, at its core, fun. Adventuring across the country while working in a career you love opens you up to so many unique opportunities to explore. Approaching an exercise routine from an all-or-nothing perspective drastically limits your ability to go out and enjoy your time off. From sampling local fare to touring wineries and breweries, taking time on days off to get out and explore is imperative to getting the most out of your travel nursing career. Living a healthy lifestyle and getting to enjoy these experiences can go hand in hand, you just have to be a little more mindful of your choices when also working towards fitness goals.
A great tool for finding some places to get moving while also exploring is the AllTrails app. You can find anything from a rugged mountain trail to a historic walking route through town. You get to experience so much more of an area when you are walking through, and at the end of the day it’s crazy to see how far you can walk when you are out having fun.
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