If you love fitness and want to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a career that combines both may interest you. Fitness or sports nursing is a relatively new and developing field. While there is not yet an academic or professional fitness nursing specialty, registered nurses (RN) are increasingly finding jobs that combine their knowledge of exercise and their medical skills. As a fitness nurse, you may work with athletes, companies and their employees, cardiac patients or health club members.
The Role of Fitness Nursing
Fitness nursing integrates physical training, wellness and disease prevention. Nurses help patients or clients live a healthy lifestyle by developing an exercise routine and a nutrition plan. In April 2015, Scrubs magazine ranked fitness nursing fifth on a list of the ten most exciting jobs in nursing.
Employment in Fitness Nursing
The field of fitness nursing is still in its early stages, so it may still be difficult for nurses to find jobs specifically titled “fitness nurse.” However, these nurses can work for corporations, hospitals, surgical recovery centers or spas, and they may also find employment in cardiac rehabilitation or sports medicine. Some nurses have even started their own health coaching businesses. They guide clients through the processes of quitting smoking, losing weight or managing stress. They can also help clients design exercise regimens.
Fitness Nursing and Cardiac Rehabilitation
For patients who have suffered a heart attack or other cardiac event, physical fitness is critical to improving and maintaining their health. Cardiac rehab nurses teach patients how to exercise safely while monitoring their vital signs; they also educate patients about healthy diets and stress reduction, and they partner with physical therapists and nutritionists to improve patients’ overall quality of life. Nurses who work in a cardiac rehab program must have Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification.
Fitness Nursing in Sports Medicine
Sports medicine covers a broad array of nursing specialties. Nurses who want to work in this type of medicine should be in good physical shape and have experience as an athlete or know about sports conditioning and injuries. Nursing jobs in sports medicine are often available in the following environments:
- Professional sports centers.
- Universities and colleges.
- Fitness clubs.
- National and international sporting competitions.
Working in Sports Medicine
Nurses have a variety of employment opportunities in sports medicine, which includes the following specialized fields:
- Radiology nursing.
- Rehabilitation nursing.
- Pediatric sports medicine.
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy nursing.
Bone and breathing injuries are common problems for athletes. Radiology nursing uses medical imaging like MRIs, CT and PET scans, and ultrasonography to diagnose those conditions.
Rehabilitation nursing deals with all types of patients — not exclusively athletes. Patients regain their strength and range of motion under the guidance of nurses and physical therapists.
Nurses employed in pediatric sports medicine are part of a team of healthcare professionals who administer care to pediatric patients who may seek medical assistance due to injuries or disease.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy facilities provide special medical services to professional athletes. Often, these athletes are older or retired with severe injuries. Patients inhale pure oxygen under elevated pressure in a hyperbaric chamber. This treatment is used to promote healing.
Why Is Fitness Important to Overall Health?
Fitness is a result of exercise. Exercise can consist of a daily regimen of walking, biking, running or lifting weights. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity include the following:
- Weight management.
- Disease prevention.
- Mental health.
- Boosting energy.
- Improving sleep.
Physical activity burns calories, which prevents weight gain and sustains weight loss. Being active increases the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and lowers the amount of unhealthy triglycerides. This reduces your risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Other benefits include preventing stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, arthritis and some cancers.
When you exercise, the brain releases chemicals that make you feel happy and relaxed. You may also gain confidence and improve your self-esteem. Routine exercise strengthens your muscles, increases endurance and helps you achieve restful sleep.
Earn a BSN Online
BSN-prepared nurses are well positioned to begin a career in fitness nursing. The University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation offers an accelerated BSN online degree program. You will take technology-enhanced courses online and participate in clinical experiences at partner hospitals throughout the state under the supervision of UT Arlington faculty. The online format does not rely on traditional, semester-based schedules, so you can complete the program without interrupting your existing personal and professional obligations.
Learn more about the UT Arlington online RN to BSN program.
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Bachelor of Science in Nursing. (n.d.). University of Texas Arlington College of Nursing and Health Innovation
Career Opportunities for Nurses Interested in Fitness. (2014, March 28). Wise Careers
Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity. (2014, February 5). Mayo Clinic
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. (2014, November 25). Mayo Clinic
Llewellyn, A. (2014, June 30). Nursing Beyond the Bedside: Health/Wellness/Fitness Coach. NurseTogether
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015 Registered Nurses. (n.d.). Bureau of Labor Statistics
Registered Nurses Job Outlook. (n.d.). Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Wide World of Sports/Fitness Nursing. (2015, July 30). Minority Nurse
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