Stay Fit on Your Travel Nurse Assignments

Inspirational Fitness Tips for Nurses from an Expert

By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor

Staying fit isn’t just a passion for Helene Neville, BSN; it's a way of life. The former NursesRx travel nurse-turned-cross country running sensation is a champion for nurses’ health. Since the age of 50, she has been inspiring people across the nation in her impressive long distance runs that include running from coast to coast and border to border. 

Before she began touring the country on foot, Neville remembers what it was like to be a travel nurse in new city, faced with a busy work schedule and a number of obstacles to maintaining personal health. So this motivational speaker, businesswoman, coach, cancer survivor and author shares her nurse fitness tips for NursesRx travel nurses and others who desire to be nurses in shape.Nurse Health

Make the time

It almost sounds too easy, but Neville is adamant about the fact that simply dedicating time specifically to exercise, fitness and nutrition is the foundation of nurse fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

“If you don’t take your time, someone else will,” she explained. “If you're going to be a travel nurse, you're already efficient and proficient in pretty much everything, and time management is probably one of those things. Take your time management skills one step further and make the time specifically for you to exercise or prepare healthy meals.”

Keep it simple with exercise you can do at home or outside

Once you've carved out the time for an exercise routine, there’s no need to get a membership at a fancy gym or fitness studio. Walking, running and lifting weights are all excellent exercise choices that you can do from the comfort of your assignment housing.

“Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can have huge returns. Weight-resistance training and anaerobic exercise, such as sprints, are the quickest way to drop poundage. You can do a head-to-toe exercise routine in a small area with just a set of dumbbells,” Neville said.

“Outside your door is your gym. All you have to do is step outside,” she added. In fact, Neville has placed in two body-building competitions, and she never goes to a gym.

Lightweight exercise bands, yoga mats and a set of dumbbells or free weights are inexpensive, travel-friendly items you can add to your home gym repertoire.

Stay motivated and inspire others

“If there seem to be hurdles or barriers to starting a routine, it’s always good to try and recruit a buddy or someone who's going to hold you accountable,” Neville said.

Scheduling exercise “dates” with a colleague, neighbor or friend is also a good way to expand your social circle and meet new people while on assignment. Once you have an appointment set to work out with a partner, it will be much harder to cancel because you know they'll be showing up.

Neville is dedicated to inspiring nurses to stay fit through her running adventures, speeches and books, including Nurses in Shape, which serves as a one-stop source for nurses’ health. The book focuses on creating the mindset required to make lifestyle changes in a busy profession.

Neville is the second person and the first women to have completed a solo run through every state in the contingent United States. She finished this 12,855 mile run over seven years and is now fundraising to run Alaska and Hawaii, the only states she has yet to run.Nurses have the unique opportunity to lead by example and serve as models of healthy living to their patients and fellow clinicians.

Helene Neville

“When you feel good and your clothes fit better, and you have all of this energy after 12- and 16-hour shifts, the patients see it, too,” said Neville. “There are so many positive returns on being that health ambassador. Patients not only need us on the frontline to administer shots or oversee their care plan, they also need us to teach and nurture them, and really be an inspiration for eating right and exercising.”

“Nursing is about giving and never giving up,” she concluded.

Learn more about Helene Neville's upcoming events, her Nurses in Shape book and more on her website,

One on the Run


Helene Neville, BSN, at the finish-line going from Florida to Maine. Neville is now a long-distance runner who inspires fellow nurses to achieve their fitness goals.

© 2013 AMN Healthcare, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction and distribution of these materials is prohibited without the expressed written authorization of AMN Healthcare, Inc.