“We need to be the change we want to see,” said Teri Pipe, RN, PhD. “To be healthy and active promotes health.” Pipe is acting on that belief, both as a nurse and a nursing leader.
Since becoming dean of nursing and health innovation at Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation in Phoenix last year, Pipe has been putting into practice what she as a nurse espouses: getting up and moving throughout the work day improves physical and cognitive health. Her ideas include an hourly officewide Get-Up-And-Move initiative, holding walking meetings and using a standing workstation.
Health and creativity improve
Pipe introduced Get-Up-And-Move to her office-suite colleagues first. “In the lobby outside my office, about once an hour, songs play that signal the other nurse leaders and administrative staff to come out of their offices and move to the music,” she said. Collectively people stretch, move or just get up from whatever they’re doing.
She encountered this idea during a meeting where the Surgeon General Vice Adm. Regina M. Benjamin spoke about first lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to get people up and moving to improve their health. Pipe said staff in her office area willingly have joined in making the change. “It’s for our productivity, our health and our minds,” she said.
Elizabeth Reifsnider, RN, PhD, WHNP, PHCNS-BC, FAAN, associate dean for research at the college, is in step with Pipe on making positive health and behavioral changes.
“I do get up and dance or march during the music breaks, and I do a lot of walking around the halls if I’ve sat longer than 90 minutes,” Reifsnider said. “I try to walk to talk to people as much as I can rather than emailing them if I have a quick question for them.”
Curiosity, then change
The standing workstation is another concept Pipe introduced, again with positive response. Looking somewhat like an over-the-bed table in a hospital room, the adjustable standing workstation can hold Pipe’s computer and papers. It has allowed her to transition to standing during many of the day’s work hours.
“At first people were very curious [about it] and there was a lot of foot traffic,” Pipe said. “Then it become something others wanted to do, too. A number of employees have asked for these workstations [because] people are getting the idea in their heads that sitting for eight hours isn’t the way we have to do things. Some people probably roll their eyes and think we’re crazy, but I feel better now than when I sat most of the day.”
Pipe said she ends her work days with energy leftover rather than feeling drained.
Pipe also meets with staff and non-college visitors in walking meetings. “We clip on tags that say ‘Walking meeting in progress,’ and get out and walk around the block or downtown,” she said.
She acknowledges that this idea is impractical for individuals with mobility issues, in poor weather or when files or media are needed.
“The more I’m up and active the better, the more dynamic and energetic I feel,” Pipe said. “I need to be creative and flexible in my thinking as a leader; I can do that better when I’m active.”
Walking meetings have enhanced creativity for Brenda Morris, RN, EdD, associate dean for academic affairs. She said she thinks the idea also could work with students, depending on the context of the meeting.
Modeling health changes
“In our role as nurses, we’re in an honored and trusted position with the public,” Pipe said. “If the public sees us making these changes ourselves, it sends a very strong and powerful message that invigorating activity and taking care of ourselves is very doable.”
Organizationwide, others are noting the changes in the nursing college offices. Pipe said neighboring ASU College of Health Solutions hopes to perform research on the health and productivity afforded by standing workstations.
“Making changes to improve health doesn’t have to be heroic,” Pipe said. “It’s making small, incremental changes that support life and health.”