39 Exercises to Help Nurses Stay Healthy On The Job

Not that we have to remind you as a nurse, but you’re in one of the top 5 most dangerous professions (https://www.edgarsnyder.com/blog/2015/05/15-five-dangerous-things-nurse.html) in terms of workplace injuries.  Many of these are the result of long term physical strain – bending, lifting, carrying, prolonged standing, etc.  Below are 39 exercises you can do to help protect themselves while they heal others.  The best part is many of them can be done without equipment!

Strength and Stretches

  1. Deep Breathing – This reduces stress and helps you relax and calm down; before, during, and after a shift.
  2. Planking – Not just for pirates (sorry, bad joke), this is usually done anywhere from 15 seconds to a minute to help strengthen your core.
  3. Squats – Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, aka “The Mountain” from Game of Thrones, squats 794 lbs (https://www.roguefitness.com/hafthor-bjornsson). While impressive, this exercise is beneficial even just done using your body weight.  It strengthens the whole body and reduces injury risk to your knees and hips.
  4. Calf Raises – The simplest way to do this flexibility-enhancing exercise is to stand up straight while holding onto something like a wall or a chair for balance. Lift as high as possible onto your toes, hold it for a few seconds, and then lower your heels down.
  5. Lunges – This leg strengthening move can be done using only body weight as well.  Put your one foot forward, making sure that you keep your legs aligned and the other knee almost facing the floor.
  6. Hamstring Curls – As a nurse, you have to take care of your legs. Hamstring curls are done by standing next to a wall or a chair for support and lifting one foot toward your butt.
  7. Plie’ Squat – This ballet-inspired exercise is basically squats done with toes facing outwards and the bottom tucked under. Slowly lower your body and rise back up, tightening your buttocks area the whole time.
  8. Seated Butt Clenches – This very simple exercise – which you do while sitting – and it helps strengthen your gluteus maximus as well as your core muscles. All you have to do is pull in your butt muscles, followed by your kegel muscles, and hold this position for about five seconds.
  9. Shoulder Shrugs – This exercise helps develop the muscles in your upper extremities and is usually done with the help of a little bit of weight, but not necessary to have. To do this, stand upright with your hands about shoulder width apart. Simply raise your shoulders as high as possible, and then slowly lower them rolling them backwards. Try not to bend your elbows while doing this exercise.
  10. Neck Stretch – Bring both arms behind your back and grab your left wrist with your right hand. Gently pull your left arm downward towards the right as you tilt your head to the right, so you feel a stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for ten seconds, then alternate sides.
  11. Arms/Shoulders Stretch – Extend your arms over your head and grasp the elbow of your right arm with your left hand and gently pull the elbow behind your head very slowly and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on your other arm.
  12. Lower Back/Hamstrings Stretch – Sit straight up on the ground with your right leg extended straight and your left leg bent at the knee. Using your hands to support you on both sides, cross your left foot over your right thigh above the knee and place it on the ground. Place your right elbow on your left knee to control your leg. With your left hand planted on the ground behind you, slowly turn your head and rotate your upper body to look over your left shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds, release slowly, and then repeat on your other leg.
  13. Hips Stretch – Stand straight up and bend your right leg back toward your rear and take a hold of your right foot with your left hand, using a wall to balance if needed. Pull your foot towards your buttocks and feel the stretch in your quadriceps and hips. Hold for 30 seconds, then alternate legs.
  14. Legs Stretch – While seated on the floor, extend one leg straight out from your body. If you can reach your toes, pull them back toward your shin as far as you can and hold the foot dorsiflexed for 10 seconds. If you can’t reach your toes, lean forward and reach as far as possible toward your toes, while flexing your foot back and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on each leg.
  15. Calf Stretch – Stand 1-2 feet away from a wall, toes pointed towards and forearms rested against the wall with your head resting on your hands. Bend one leg and place your foot ahead of the other with your big toe touching the wall, leaving your other leg straight. Slowly move your hips forward until you feel the stretch in the calf of your straight leg, making sure your heel of that leg does not leave the ground. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, making sure not to bounce, then alternate legs.
  16. Feet/Ankles Stretch – While sitting on the ground, grasp one leg, elevating it off the ground. Take hold of your foot and gently rotate your ankle clockwise and counter-clockwise 10 to 20 times in each direction. Repeat on both ankles.


  1. Locust Pose – lay on your stomach. Arch up to the ceiling lifting your head, chest, arms, and legs.
  2. Wheel Pose – Lay on your back and bend your knees to place your feet on the ground. Place your palms on the ground by your ears. Lift your stomach to the sky to make an arch until your arms are straight.
  3. Bow Pose – Laying on your stomach, reach back to grab your ankles and arch up.
  4. Staff Pose – Sitting on the ground with your legs extended straight out, flex your feet and pull your head up to the ceiling.
  5. Half Boat Pose – From sitting on the ground with your legs extended straight out, lift your legs up so your body is making a V shape. Reach your arms out straight in front of your face and hold.
  6. Mountain Pose – Standing tall, take a deep breath and raise your arms up over your head. Touch your palms together and breathe.
  7. Downward Dog Pose – With your palms on the ground, step your feel back with your butt in the air making a V with your body. Stretch your heels towards the ground and push your arms into the ground.
  8. Easy Pose – Sitting on the ground with your legs crossed, reach your arms up over your head. Push your palms together and slightly bend your elbows. Take a deep breathe and reach your head up to the
  9. Cow Faced Pose – Sitting on the ground, push your legs father than crossed so your knees are touching. Reach your right arm up and bend behind your head going down your back. Take your left arm behind your back reaching up trying to touch your hands together behind your back. Repeat on the other side.
  10. Hero Pose – Sitting on your knees, rest your butt on your feet. Take a deep breathe and pull the top of your head to the ceiling.
  11. Revolved Side Angle Pose – Starting from Warrior 2 pose, touch your palms together so your hands are in pray pose and place the opposite elbow on your front knee so your torso twists. Look up to the ceiling.
  12. Triangle Pose – From the previous pose, remove the arm that is placed on your knee and extend it to the ground so your palm is pressed into the ground. Straighten your legs and extend your other arm to the ceiling continuing looking up towards your hand.
  13. Half Moon Pose – Standing up straight, place your right hand on the ground. Lift your left leg up to the sky. Rotate your torso lifting your left arm to the sky and looking up at it.
  14. Half Lord of Fishes Pose – Sitting on the ground, bend your left leg into your body. Place the right foot on the ground crossing over your left leg. Take your right arm and push it on the inside of your right leg twisting your torso.
  15. Bharadwaja’s Twist Pose – Sitting in hero’s pose, pull your right leg out straight in front of you then bend it so your right foot is in the crease of your hip. Place your left hand on your right knee and twist as your breathe.
  16. Warrior Pose – Go into a deep lung with your right leg in front. Twist your torso so your right hand is extending over your right toe. Glaze gently over your finger tips as your breathe.
  17. Supported Shoulder Pose – Lay down flat on your back and left both legs to the ceiling. Put your hands under your hips to help guide your legs higher. Continue until your elbows are flat on the ground holding your lower body up.
  18. Equal Breathing and Meditation – Sitting on the grounding with your legs crossed, gently place your hands on your knees with your palms facing up. Close your eyes and focus on deep breathes in and out.
  19. Cat-Cow Pose – On the your hands and knees, go into cat pose. That means arch your back and look up to the ceiling. Then cow pose, pull your belly button into your spin so your back rounds and look down at the ground. Repeat these movements as you breathe.
  20. Cobbler’s Pose – Sitting on the ground, place the soles of your feet together and gently hold onto them with your hands. As your knees softly go towards the ground, take deep breathes.
  21. Baby’s Pose – Sitting on your knees, pull your heels farther apart so your butt can touch the ground. Lean toward so your forehead is on the ground and reach your arms over your head gently walking your fingers out further and further from your body.
  22. Crocodile Pose – Lay flat on your stomach with your feel together. Bend your arms and rest your forehead on your forearms. Close your eyes and breathe.
  23. Corpse Pose – Lay flat on your back. Slight separate your legs from each other and your arms from your body. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.






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