Women's heart health: a focus on nurses’ physical activity and sedentary behaviour

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Abstract

Purpose of review

This review focuses on recent literature examining and targeting the physical activity and sedentary behaviour of nurses. The role of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in preventing and managing cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women is also discussed.

Recent findings

Nurses (most of whom are women) represent the largest professional group within the health care workforce and many present with risk factors for CVD (e.g. physical inactivity, sedentary behaviour, overweight/obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, smoking, depression, anxiety). Several studies have measured the physical activity and sedentary behaviour of nurses and found low levels of physical activity (i.e. most do not meet physical activity guidelines) and high levels of sedentary behaviour (50–60% of the day). Nurses working rotating shifts, 12-h shifts and/or working full-time or part-time (vs. casual) may be at greater risk of physical inactivity; however, the opposite has been observed for sedentary behaviour. Few interventions targeting nurses’ physical activity levels have shown promise, but those that have used activity monitors with behavioural strategies; no studies, to date, have evaluated the impact of sedentary behaviour interventions in nurses.

Summary

Improving the physical activity levels and reducing the sedentary behaviour of nurses is important for nurses’ cardiovascular health. There is a need for interventions to address low physical activity and high sedentary behaviour among nurses.

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