Five Benefits of Strength Training

As nurses, we are always moving–lifting, walking, running, bending over–and doing a lot of grunt work. When it comes to moving patients, we want to make sure that we protect our back and joints most of all. The best way to do this is to ensure that we have adequate muscle mass to lift and slide our patients properly. That’s where strength training comes in!

  1. Strength training builds muscle, therefore increasing metabolism

Studies show that strength training increases the resting metabolic rate, so you can burn calories even when you’re sitting down doing some charting.

  1. Strength training builds mental toughness

We all know that bedside nursing can be stressful, and you might feel like you are juggling six balls at once sometimes. Strength training challenges you in a way you might not have been challenged before. This leads to an increased confidence and ability to handle whatever the shift might throw at you.

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  1. Strength training increases bone density

As women, we know it’s important to maintain good bone health. Strength training helps to prevent osteoporosis later in life. When you lift dumbbells and do a curl, the muscles pull on those bones. The cells in your bones react by creating more new bone cells. Your bones become stronger and more dense. Perform strength-training exercises and you’ll be less prone to bone loss as you age.

  1. Stronger muscles lead to better performance, in all areas!

Whatever exercise you engage in, outside of work or during work, you will have more success with a good foundation in strength training. It can also help you burn more calories during cardio workouts, or while running down the hall to a code!

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  1. Strength training increases heart health

In one Appalachian State study, those who performed 45 minutes of moderate intensity resistance exercise lowered their blood pressure by 20 points. That’s as good as most blood pressure pills, and with less expense.

Get out there and start training! I prefer the 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme programs. These are great for building muscle and confidence. Start with some light 3 to 5 pound weights and a resistance band. If you are interested in getting started with a 21 Day Fix challenge pack, you can get one Here. Let me know what has worked for you in the comments!

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Are Nurses Fueling the Opioid Crisis?

In nursing school we are taught that pain is the fifth vital sign, next to temperature, respirations, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation levels. We are also taught that pain is what the patient says it is, leading us to constantly ask patients to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10. We are asked to re-evaluate their pain after our interventions, leading us to often tell the physician that a patient’s pain isn’t well-controlled. On top of this, our hospitals are reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid based on patient’s pain control through the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores. With all this focus on pain, combined with the monetary incentives to control pain, is it any wonder that so many people are addicted to pain medications?

Our intense focus of alleviating a patient’s pain in all ways possible has lead to many patients becoming addicted within the hospital system. When they can no longer get opioid prescription medication, they turn to illegal drugs like heroin. Many of my patients come in with abscesses from heroin injections. According to the American Nurses Association:

  • 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose
  • At least half of all opioid overdoses involved a prescribed medicine
  • Sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014, but the overall amount of pain Americans report has not changed
  • Heroin-related overdose deaths have more than tripled since 2010

As nurses, we should advocate for more drug-free ways to relieve pain. After all, pain is a part of life, but so many people are afraid to feel it. There are alternative pain treatments out there, such as meditation, acupuncture, guided imagery, hypnosis, exercise, and so many more. Hospital treatments are almost solely focused on medication, and it’s time for that to change if we want to rid ourselves of the opioid epidemic in this country.