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Staying in Shape (when you’ve been up for 24 hours!)

by Cassie Moore, ACNM Writer and Editor

Recently, one of our members brought up the point that, after staying up for 24 hours (or longer!) while on call and delivering babies, it’s hard for her to muster the energy it takes to stick with a consistent workout routine. It’s one of those all-too-common side effects of being someone who takes care of other people—it’s hard to make time for yourself, and when you do have time, you don’t necessarily want to spend it huffing and puffing on a treadmill. Midwives know firsthand the benefits of exercise, but it can be really hard to put that into action. Especially when you add on children or older parents to look after, a household to tend to, etc.

My favorite exercise is running, because it’s low-tech and low-hassle. I’m done in 20-30 minutes and back at my doorstep. ACNM Communications Manager Melissa Garvey says she makes exercise a priority, like taking a shower. She chooses a mix of exercises—swimming, yoga, P90X, spinning, and long walks—so she doesn’t get bored and can do something that matches her mood. She also attends a gym with babysitting so she knows little Cameron is in good hands! Professional Practice & Health Policy Director Tina Johnson, CNM, swims 3-4 hours per week, uses the elliptical machine, and takes long walks and hikes with her dogs and husband Peter. And Executive Director Lorrie Kline Kaplan hikes, rides her bike to work in the summer, goes to the gym, works with a personal trainer one day per week, and gardens.

Some of our members also weighed in on how they stay in shape, shown below with their comments. What are your favorite ways to exercise within the limitations of your job?

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good
“I found I had to lower my expectations a little. I used to think if I couldn't do the perfect 60 minute workout or go to the gym, all was lost. Now I know I can do a Pilates routine on my floor or do a set of lunges, squats, sit ups, and pushups that can be done the 10 minutes before I jump in the shower. Every little bit counts—I feel empowered and in control of my life vs. letting it control me. It's consistency that works here. There are gonna be days I simply just strike out—I am just too darn tired—so being kind to myself by letting go a little has worked for me.

Motivate yourself with benefits other than weight loss
“I tell myself that the walk will give me more refreshing sleep and go by myself when my husband isn't available. I do 2-3 miles a day.”

“I fight for time to run for my mental health just as much as for physical benefits.”

Use a DVD or stream an online video if you can’t leave home
“I have started a 30 minute easy yoga routine each afternoon.”

“I love The Firm videos, which combine cardio and light weights, and can be done at different intensity levels. Some of the workouts use short, high intensity bursts so that a workout can be done in 20-30 minutes. Weight training makes a big difference for weight loss and increased metabolic burn all day long. Go to for previews of hundreds of different workout DVDs.”

Do a creative activity that involves some exercise
“I think you need a creative/artistic activity that engages you 100%. I bird watch whenever I can get out and I belong to a community chorus and church choir. My midwife friends with long careers are involved with dog training, hiking, dancing, quilting, and other creative crafts, all things that totally engage your mind.”

“I started with five laying hens and a small raised-bed garden last year. It has been a great way to force me outside and get me moving. We love the fresh eggs, a few fresh veggies from time to time, and the chickens cut down on our household waste by eating our scraps.”

Image via Greenbelt Alliance.

Posted 10/6/2011 12:08:28 PM



Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM is not responsible for accuracy of any of the information provided by guest bloggers and/or members via the Comments section. We welcome all feedback – including comments, ideas and suggestions. We also welcome civil, friendly debates. However, any and all content that is deemed inflammatory or rude will not be posted.


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