Kettlebells. They are odd shaped, intriguing, and a mystery to many. They also happen to be my absolute favorite tool for fitness. The reasons for this are many, and we will dig into this in detail in hopes that you will also grow to appreciate this amazing fitness tool in your own life (if you don't already).
1) Easy access: Kettlebells are easily accessible, compact and portable. You don't need to have a gym membership to own your own kettlebell and use it anywhere you please. So there really is no excuse here for not being able to workout anywhere. Use it in your house, your backyard, or even take it on vacation with you. Totally doable. :)
2) Quick workouts: You can get a great workout in within a very short amount of time. It doesn't have to take long. Combining the right exercises with the right weight kettlebell for you can give you an amazing workout in even as little as 10-15 minutes. Swinging a kettlebell can burn up to 20 calories a minute - so that's 300 calories in only 15 minutes. This is awesome! Nurses don't have a lot of time to workout, so this is a huge plus. Get it done!
3) Combines cardio and strength: Kettlebells provide a great cardio workout along with strength building as well. You can get your heart rate sky high for a great cardio effect and also build lean muscle with controlling the weight during any given exercise. Killing two birds with one stone. That's what I'm talking about. Who has time for more? Also, the ballistic but nonimpact nature of kettlebell work can strengthen rather than damage joints that can happen with certain repetitive cardio workouts.
4) Uses your entire kinetic chain: With kettlebell work, you are using your entire kinetic chain which makes these workouts total body. When you are able to do this, you are making everyday activities easier for yourself. Kettlebell work uses fundamental movement patterns that will help you in every day life. Who doesn't want that? I want to move well, prevent injury, and make my life easier.
5) Recruit more stabilizer muscles: These workouts will recruit more stabilizer muscles than just using dumbbells with muscle isolation movements. This will better your balance and stability in your everyday movements. While muscle isolation alone can build muscle, your missing out on the added benefits of kettlebells if that's all you're doing. Just try some Turkish get ups and see what I'm talking about!
6) Flexibility and mobility: Kettlebell work is amazing for improving flexibility and mobility. It has been referred to by some as "yoga with weights"! You can greatly improve your flexibility with kettlebells without the need for holding any long poses. Hips tight? Shoulders tight? Certain kettlebell workouts can be amazing for improving overall mobility, especially in these areas.
7) Develop core strength: Your core is the foundation of all your movements. When you have a strong core, you will perform everything better (including lifting patients, equipment, or any movements necessary at work). Because of the unique shape of kettlebells where the center of gravity is not in the center, you need to work harder to keep it stable with using your core and glutes. This is a great way to get a strong core without ever doing one situp. Ever.
8) Help lower back pain: Low back pain is a very common problem for many, especially among nurses. Much of this, however, is due to a lack of core strength and poor posture (which kettlebells will greatly help!). That being said, kettlebells will NOT fix a back injury. If your back pain is from some kind of injury, you must be sure to check with your doctor first before doing any exercise.
9) Safe for any age: Some people think that kettlebells are not safe for older adults. This could not be further from the truth. If taught correctly, kettlebells are extremely safe and effective for people of any age. I would even say they are one of the BEST choices for older adults! All of us need to improve strength, get in some cardio, and improve our overall mobility.
10) Fun workouts without boredom! The possibilities are endless with kettlebell workouts. There are so many ways to combine execises and change things up on a daily basis, you can never be bored.
I hope this has at least gotten your attention and increased your interest in trying out kettlebells for yourself. Be sure you learn how to correctly use a kettlebell first, and start with basic exercises like the swing and Turkish get up to get your form down. Practice, practice, practice! Endless possibilities await you.
Terri Wentzell is a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience. She is also a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, fitness nutrition coach, and sport yoga instructor.