How Much Does a Nurse Really Walk During Their Shift?

Being a nurse is a job that takes not only a lot of education but also extreme endurance throughout every shift. You might wonder how much a nurse walks during an average day because a nurse will be on their feet almost their entire shifts. What once would have been a more challenging task to find out the average of how much a nurse walks during the day has now been done thanks to advancements in technology and data collection. This article will tell you how much a nurse will walk on average during their shift and more information about fit goals and other fitness facts for nursing.

How much does a nurse walk during their shift?

Different lengths of shifts will determine a variety of averages for the lengths of nurses walking. Researchers have reported on studies from 15 states with a total of 767 nurse participants and was one of the first hospital environmental studies of nursing workflow in live clinical settings.

The studies showed that an average 12-hour day shift will require a nurse to walk about 5 miles, whereas a 12-hour night shift will require a nurse to walk about 3 miles.

Based on these findings, an 8-hour day shift will require a nurse to walk about 3.3 miles, and an 8-hour night shift will require a nurse to walk about 2 miles.

How do these numbers break down?

A 12-hour shift, whether it was day or night, will produce an average of 4 miles of walking. This means a nurse will walk about one third of a mile every hour, which equates to about one and a half times around a track. By the end of the day, they have essentially walked around the track at least 16 times.

Regardless of the type of shift a nurse works, a nurse will work on average 40 hours per week, which equates to about 173 hours in a month. Considering a nurse will walk one third of a mile on average each hour, this means a nurse will walk more than 57 miles each month, which is the equivalent of walking about 2 miles each day, every day.

Do nurses walk significantly less when they aren’t working?

The amount of time or length that a nurse walks or moves while off their shift or on their off-days from work is different for all nurses. However, it has been reported that nurses do move and walk significantly less on their off-days. While it is still important to get at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular activity (cardio) each day, many nurses won’t go much further than that on their off days because of how much they work and walk during their shifts.

There are many nurses who are extremely fit, while there are also some nurses who aren’t fit and even overweight. This is determined through what activities are done on their off days as well as what routines they have. Another large factor is their diet and what they eat on a daily basis, both during workdays and non-workdays.

The study showed that nurses who weren’t working expended only 12% less energy than when they were working, so many nurses still walk or produce much of the same physical activity during their off days than they do when they are at work.

What other factors go into how much a nurse walks during the workday?

One of the largest factors that was determined in the study that affected the length of walking during a shift was the architectural layout of the hospital building and individual nursing unit. Some units and hospitals are much smaller, some have better routes through the hospital, while others are large and built like a maze that requires much longer walking lengths for a nurse to get from place to place.

Another factor that you might consider is the type of nurse when determining how far a nurse will walk during their shift. Some nurses work behind a desk for the majority of the day while others will be walking around almost all day long. Nurses who walk from patient to patient in long hallways throughout their whole shift will walk much longer than a nurse who does most of the data collection and processing. Even a head nurse might walk less than other nurses.


Nurses walk much more than many other professions, and because of this, nurses will be able to reach their fit goals and stay healthier because of the increased amount of exercise they receive on the job. However, when thinking about becoming a nurse, getting fit won’t happen on its own. A nurse’s workday will provide a lot of exercise, but continuing that cardiovascular exercise on the off days will help a nurse stay fit.

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