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Working 12 hr days and need advice on how to fit in exercise

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Does anyone have any tips for fitting exercise into their busy days? I am a nurse and work 12-13 hour days (6 or 7am-7:30pm) 3 times a week. I have a membership to a gym at work but by the time my shift is over, I am too exhausted to stay and work out, this is especially true if I have to get up at 4:30 am to make it into work the next morning.

I am active at my job, spend a great deal of time standing, walking and lifting patients...I just think I am cheating myself by calling that exercise and avoiding the gym all together.

I guess another issue that compounds my problem is that I am one of those people who needs a ton of sleep and if left alone with out interruptions, could easily sleep 12-14 hours.

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Not sure if I have any good tips but I work a 10 hour day 5 days a week with an hour commute each way so basically like working 12.

You have to want to make that time for yourself. Once you make it a routine it will just be a normal part of your day but you could on your off days have longer workouts and the days you work have shorter higher impact workouts. Like a 30min spin class or 30 min at a fast pace on the treadmill. Just some ideas.

Most of all you have to be motivated to do it for you .

You have an active job.  You're not sitting on your butt at a desk all day.  You're probably getting more excercise on the days you're working than most people with sedentary jobs who work out every day.  I think it's ok to declare work your excercise on the days you work.  Dragging yourself to the gym when you're exhausted is not the answer, especially if it's going to cheat yourself out of much needed sleep (which is extremely important to a healthy lifestyle).

But on your days off, make the gym (or any kind of excercise you enjoy) a priority.  It will probably help you destress and unwind from work too.

I am also a nurse that works 12's, usually closer to 14's.  I swim every day I am off for 1h, sometimes even after work on my last day.  I work in a ICU and it is crazy busy, but I don't count it as exercise.  I also try to sleep the same amount each day, I stay up later when I am off and get up later too, but if I am sleepy, I take a nap.  I have more energy when I work out.

As a personal trainer, I work with clients - on av. - 12 hrs  a day and also have a company [my gym] to run. I still manage to train [exercise] myself 2-5 hrs a day - 5/6 days a week.  Think about the times you spend 'wasting' on the internet or watching TV...even a 20 min. HIIT - just 20 mins!! - would be considered an awesome workout!

As others have mentioned, if you still find it hard to workout on days you work, you still have 4 other days you don't work. Utilize that gym at your hospital that you belong to...or workout at home.  Where there is a will there is a way! Overcome the excuses and JUST DO IT! ;)

My extra advice would be incorporating more walking into your day.

Park your car at least 15 minutes away from your destination. Then walk the extra bit. I know it isn't continually walking 30 mins, but hey be like the Swiss. Any extra movement is extra calories burned.

Also, make it a habit to do some crunches, push ups, squats, or some pilates every morning and/or evening. Try something like this for a month. I wouldnt be surprised if you lost a bit of weight or at least felt good.

Thanks everyone for the great advice! Tomorrow I will try some new things :)


Can you fit in 10-20 squats a couple times a day...nothing formal, just find a quiet place and do a few on a break?  Also lunges are great.

Definintly work out on your days off.  As far as the 3 days you're working, I'd say try to fit in a little exercise (say walk to the cafe or wherever, or park further away and walk in).  I work 10 hour days, but I usually bum around and watch tv in the morning, so now I hop on the tread mill during one show.  Maybe something like that would help?

I also work 3, 12 hour shifts, and I do not stress about working out on those days.  After a day at work the only thing I want to do is come home and relax, and eat if I didn't get a chance yet:)  I do watch my calories a little closer on work days since I'm not as active.  My days off, I make sure I get a mix of both cardio and weight training.  Do what works for you, but make it realistic.  

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