‘Do You Consider Yourself Healthy?’ Study Sheds Light on RNs’ Lifestyle Practices

By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor

Over the past decade, the lifestyle practices of nurses and their connection to quality of care and patient outcomes have been gaining attention. Indeed, according to the patient-centered, relationship-based care model, one of the main conditions for optimal care is that providers engage in healthy self-care behaviors. Yet there is some evidence suggesting that RNs don’t consistently do so, especially when it comes to exercise and stress reduction—even when they believe they should.

Nurse researchers Karen Thacker and colleagues recently conducted a study to learn more. They report their findings in this month’s CE–Original Research feature, “An Investigation into the Health-Promoting Lifestyle Practices of RNs.” Here’s a brief summary:

Purpose: To gather baseline data on the health-promoting lifestyle practices of RNs working in six major health care and educational institutions in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Methods: The 52-item Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile II instrument was used to explore participants’ self-reported health-promoting behaviors and measure six dimensions: health responsibility, physical activity, nutrition, interpersonal relations, spiritual growth, and stress management.
Results: Findings revealed that physical activity and stress management scores were low for the entire group of RNs. There were statistically significant differences between nurses 50 years of age and older and those 30 to 39 years of age for the subscales of health responsibility, nutrition, and stress management, suggesting that older nurses are more concerned about their health. […]

Are the Benefits of Nutrition for Cardiovascular Health Being Undersold ?

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor

By Eric Hunt/via Wikimedia Commons By Eric Hunt/via Wikimedia Commons

A nutrition conference at which physicians and medical students outnumber either nurses or dietitians is a rare event. This was the case at last month’s International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine: Cardiovascular Disease in Washington, DC, cosponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and George Washington University.

The speakers, shared a wealth of data on the influence of different types of diets on weight, blood pressure, lipids, serum inflammatory markers, hemoglobin A1c levels, and diseased coronary arteries. More than one pointed out that we too often overestimate the benefits of drugs and medical procedures and discount the effectiveness of diet and lifestyle changes. Some highlights:

Does heart disease begin in utero? Children who are large for gestational age (> 95th percentile) and those born to overweight mothers are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Vascular physiologist Michael Skilton, PhD, associate professor at the University of Sydney in Australia, has also identified microscopic lesions in aortic endothelium of babies born small for gestational age (< 10th percentile). He suggests that their diets include the American Heart Association’s recommendations for omega-3 fatty acid intake beginning in childhood (breast milk, flax seeds, walnuts, or child-friendly omega 3 supplements can be used in lieu of fish-derived omega 3s when mercury is a concern).

Children and heart […]

A Program of Mindfulness Practice for Nurses at a Boston Cancer Center

By Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

The Thea and James Stoneman Healing Garden at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a source of tranquility and relaxation for nurses, patients, and families. Photo by Sam Ogden, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The Thea and James Stoneman Healing Garden at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a source of tranquility and relaxation for nurses, patients, and families. Photo by Sam Ogden, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Maybe you already practice some version of meditation or mindfulness in your daily life. If not, you may at least have read or watched a news story recently about mindfulness and its various uses with or by everyone from elementary school students to professional athletes to drug addicts in recovery to CEOs looking to improve their focus, as well as many of the rest of us.

Or maybe you saw the final episode of the television series Mad Men a few weeks ago, with the advertising man Don Draper sitting cross-legged at a California coastal retreat, deep in meditation.

Some critics of a few of the more profit-driven uses of mindfulness practice have been at pains to remind us to at least keep in mind that such practices are often derived from ancient traditions […]

Take a Walk: American Heart Month, for Nurses and Everyone Else

By Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief

By Eric Hunt/via Wikimedia Commons By Eric Hunt/via Wikimedia Commons

So we all know what we need to do to prevent heart disease: eat a healthy diet (such as the highly touted Mediterranean diet, which has been “consistently effective with regard to cardiovascular risk”), get regular exercise, and don’t smoke. But most of us—and I’m guilty—don’t quite follow the advice we may give our patients or family members. It’s difficult to carve out time for oneself in addition to working all day (and for most nurses, we’re not talking a nine to five day—many work 12-hour shifts, or at least a 10-hour day if in administrative positions), plus commuting and then spending time with family. If you have school-age children in activities, there are also car pools and homework.

We need to find 30 minutes—or even 20 minutes—daily to jump-start our own engines. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, heart disease kills one in four women and is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States. And while genetics certainly plays a part, cardiovascular health is mostly about prevention. So make a 30-minute appointment with yourself and stick to it.

The American Heart Association (AHA) initiative highlighting heart disease in February is a good reminder to us all, especially in the harsh […]

The Seven Surprises: What I’ve Learned About Nursing Through Yoga

By Medora McGinnis, RN, whose last post for this blog was “Practically a Nurse: Life as a New Graduate RN.” Medora is now a pediatric RN at St. Mary’s Hospital in the Bon Secours Health System, Richmond, Virginia, as well as a freelance writer. As a nursing student she was the Imprint Editor for the National Student Nurses Association.

By HealthZone (The Star) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons Hot Yoga (Bikram), by HealthZone (The Star), via Wikimedia Commons The room is dark, and hot; 105 degrees, to be exact. I carry my mat, towel, and water bottle to the back corner of the room and settle into my space. I drink some water and lie down, trying to let go of all of the thoughts racing around in my head. A few minutes later, class starts and we start breathing, moving, stretching, and sweating . . . and really sweating. I’m shaking as I try to hold my plank position (which I still have to modify on my knees), then relaxing into a forward bend. Breathing, drinking water, moving, and stretching—and without realizing it, my thoughts are only about the present moment.

When I decided to try hot yoga about a month ago, I knew it would help me reduce stress and gain flexibility, and I was even hoping I’d lose weight. As a present day RN and a former ballet dancer, I looked forward to some of the health benefits I’d heard […]