As nurses we have a responsibility to not only share health information and signpost patients to appropriate services to support them in making lifestyle behaviour changes, but we owe it to ourselves to be role models for our patients and be in the best of health in order to carry out our nursing roles efficiently.
Physical activity is essential for good health (DH, 2004) and those nurses who participate in physical activity are more likely to reap the benefits of good health such as lower sickness absence, increased loyalty to their workplace and better recruitment retention (NICE, 2008).
We know that as a population we are far too inactive.
- over one in four women and
- one in five men do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week, so are classified as ‘inactive’
- physical inactivity is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability in the UK.
(Murray, CJ. et al (2013) UK health performance: findings of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, Lancet, March 23-29, pp. 997-1020)
In order to maintain the good health of our nursing workforce, encouraging them to participate in activities such as cycling or walking to work and use modes of transport involving physical activity as well as providing low cost and fun exercise sessions in the workplace, will also ensure that they are adhering to the Chief Medical Officer's guidance for physical activity; see: Start active, stay active: infographics on physical activity.
There are a number of resources available for nurses to help increase their knowledge around how physical activity helps prevent as well as treat diseases associated with no or lower levels of exercise.