As a caregiver, it’s important that you also take good care of yourself — and that includes fitting physical activity into your life. It will go a long way toward keeping you fit for a job that can be both physically and mentally draining.
With help from the strategies below, it’s possible to incorporate physical activity into your routine, even if you weren’t particularly active before you began overseeing care for someone close to you.
The fact is, to do the best for your loved one, you need to keep yourself healthy as well.
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, carrying laundry up and down the stairs. Do it at a brisk pace, and you’re getting exercise without realizing it. (Another hint: Listen to music or a podcast while you’re at it, and the time may just fly by.)
- Yardwork counts. Raking leaves, trimming hedges and gardening provides a level of 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’ve been active for at least 10 minutes. Highlighting your accomplishments will motivate you to keep it up. Print our activity tracker (PDF) to get started, or consider a wearable 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.