As a caregiver, it’s important that you also take care of yourself — and that includes being physically active. It will go a long way toward keeping you fit for a job that can be both physically and mentally demanding.
Even if you weren’t particularly active before you began caring for someone close to you, you can find ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
Here are some tips to help you get moving:
- Start with a one-month goal. Make it easy to succeed by starting with an attainable goal. For example, you might say to yourself, “I'll walk five more minutes, twice a day. I’ll do that at least five days a week for one month.”
- Stretch. When done properly, stretching activities can increase flexibility. Remember to ease yourself into a stretch — relax, don’t push or bounce. Exhale as you stretch. Inhale while holding the stretch. Close your eyes for deeper relaxation.
- Move during TV commercials. Pressed for time? Work in a little exercise when you watch TV. Every time a commercial comes on, get up and move. Lift your legs, walk in place or do a mat exercise.
- Make brisk housework part of your physical activity. Vacuuming the floor and carrying laundry up and down the stairs is physical activity. Do it at a brisk pace, and you’re getting exercise without realizing it. Listen to music or a podcast while you’re at it, and the time may fly by.
- Yardwork counts. Raking leaves, trimming hedges and gardening provides physical activity and may even relax you, as your mind gets a well-deserved rest. Plus, the fresh air will do you good.
- Track and log your progress. Record times throughout the week when you're physically active. Highlighting your accomplishments will motivate you to keep it up. Print our activity tracker (PDF) to get started, use your smart phone or consider wearing a fitness tracker.
- Yoga can benefit both mind and body. Aside from its physical benefits, yoga can help you calm your mind. Yoga can help you learn to “breathe through” stressful situations outside of the yoga studio.
- Lift weights. Spend a lot of time on the phone? Grab your hand weights and do some arm repetitions. No weights? Use cans or jars from the pantry.