Nursing is generally thought of as an active profession, but a recent study provides a different perspective. Researchers at the Ottawa Heart Institute followed the movements of female nurses in the Champlain region of Ontario, using accelerometers to measure their activity levels.
Data from the devices showed that, surprisingly, the nurses spent about half of their time engaged in sedentary activities such as sitting. This translates to an average of 7.5 inactive waking hours per day, with less than fifteen minutes spent doing more vigorous physical activity. The average sedentary time of nurses is still lower than that of the average Canadian at a daily 9.8 hours.
One of the most important applications of this information was to test the effect of inactivity on nurses’ health. Sedentary behaviour has been shown to be directly linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
This study examined the relationship between individual nurses’ physical activity in the workplace and markers of their cardiometabolic health, such as body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and blood pressure. They found a clear correlation between more time spent being sedentary and less favourable results for these markers. The researchers concluded that it is imperative to make changes in Canadian nurses’ work environments in order to reduce sedentary time and contribute to improving their overall cardiac health.