You may be like many people who weren't active enough even before they started caregiving. Now, as a caregiver, you need more than ever to fit physical activity into your life. It will go far toward keeping you fit for a job that can be physically and mentally draining.
The American Heart Association recommends that all healthy adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most – preferably all – days. Here are some tips to help you get moving.
Start with a one-month goal you know you can reach. Make it easy to succeed. Example: "I'll walk five minutes twice a day at least five days a week for one month."
Stretch. When done properly, stretching activities increase flexibility. Ease yourself into a stretch, relax, and don't push or bounce. Exhale as you stretch. Inhale while holding the stretch. Close your eyes for deeper relaxation.
Get an exercise mat. It will encourage you to do simple exercises. Taking a full body stretch on the mat is a great way to relieve tension. Force your body to stay still and concentrate on lengthening and stretching your muscles.
Move during commercials. Every time one comes on TV, get up and move. Lift your legs,walk in place or do a mat exercise. Those commercials really add up!
Purchase or borrow exercise and relaxation videos. You may even find your loved one trying to make a few moves if you work out while they're in the room.
Put on some music you love, pretend you're out for a night of fun and dance! It will cheer you up and keep you fit. (Use headphones if your loved one hates your favorite music!)
Use music while you're doing housework. It will speed up your activity and the time will fly by.
Take out your frustrations on the lawn! Raking leaves, trimming hedges and gardening will give you some physical activity, relax you and give you a sense of accomplishment.
Scrub the bathtub for extra muscle conditioning. (Another good frustration-buster.)
Track and log your progress. It will motivate you and highlight your accomplishments. Print our activity tracker to help get you started.
Yoga gives mind and body fitness. It eases pain, stiffness and other symptoms of chronic illnesses like arthritis. It's low impact and will give you better balance and flexibility, increased strength, better concentration, stress relief, increased energy and an ability to relax more quickly at will.
Lift weights. Spend a lot of time on the phone? Grab your weights and do some arm repetitions. No weights? Use cans or jars from the pantry.
All healthy adults (ages 18 to 65) should avoid inactivity and get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a week, OR at least 25 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity at least three days a week, for a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity. Adults should also get at least 2 days a week of muscle-strengthening activities that involve all the major muscle groups.