Being a caregiver is a tough and can take a toll on your physical and mental health, it can be a difficult task for even the strongest people. It is a time-consuming job and it may time away from your ability to do other things. However, making sure that exercise remains a priority in your life is important for maintaining your own personal health.
Caregivers offer their patients something they need but are susceptible to something called caregiver stress that can have a major impact on overall health. Caregiver stress is condition that is well known in the health care community. It is characterized by feeling overwhelmed, being easily irritated, feeling sad and can lead to having depression and becoming socially isolated. There are a number of things that you can do to try and overcome this problem, one of the most effective ways of doing this is by exercising.
Because being a caregiver is so time-consuming, it may be hard to find time in your schedule to exercise. However, there are a few things that you can do to shuffle your schedule and make time for exercise to improve your mental and physical health.
Benefits of Exercise
There are a number of benefits of exercising, not only will it improve physical health and decrease the chances of being diagnosed with many chronic diseases, it can also help to improve your mental health and can be a stress reliever. Participating in endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises are good ways to stay fit and healthy.
For adults, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults should do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. When adults do the equivalent of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, the benefits can include lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Physically active adults also sleep better, have improved cognition, and have a better quality of life,” the CDC says.
Exercises can be simple like walking, jogging or can be more complex like yoga or Tai Chi and weightlifting. Each exercise has its own specific benefit walking and jogging can help with endurance while yoga and Tai Chi can improve flexibility and weight training can obviously improve muscle strength.
All of these things will help you with daily activities and will keep you healthy for a long time if done consistently.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry states just how important physical activity can be in helping your mental health.
“Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal,” the study says.
Making Exercise a Priority
Because physical activity and exercise is so important for maintaining overall health, it is vital to incorporate it into your daily routine. It may be difficult to squeeze exercise into a busy schedule especially for caregivers, however there are a few things you can do to make it easier.
One of the easiest things you can do to make exercise part of your routine would be to work out with the senior you are assisting. Not only would you get your workout in, but the senior your are helping could get healthier as well. Working out with a partner in general can be helpful as you can help motivate each other and stay on a schedule.
You may think working out with a senior may be difficult because of their physical limitations, however, there are a few simple exercises that most seniors will be able to participate in. Obviously, going on a brisk walk or maybe even a job is something that many seniors are able to do. Also, activities like yoga, stretches, and Tai Chi are a few other forms of exercise that are not too strenuous that many older individuals will be able to take part in.
Making some simple lifestyle changes like taking the stairs rather than an elevator would be a good way to get some bursts of exercise in throughout the day. Similarly, parking far away from the grocery store to increase your walking distance is another good way to get some extra cardio in throughout the day.
One of the best ways to implement an exercise routine in your schedule is to start slow. Don’t start with a full-blown 45-minute exercise, work your way up. Starting with a quick 15-minute exercise and slowly increasing that time is a good way to slip exercise into your schedule.
Similarly, you don’t have to do all your daily exercise at one time, sometimes it is easier to break up the time and spread it throughout the day. For example, it may be easier for you to do a quick 15-minute job after waking up and before going to bed rather than one long run at some point in the day.
Overall, getting in a 30 to 60 minute exercise everyday can be hard, especially for a caretaker who has their schedule packed. However, by making a few changes to your lifestyle or working out with the senior you are caring for it can be some easy ways to begin to incorporate exercise into your weekly schedule. Starting out slow is key, work your way up to a major, full-blown workout to make it easier on your schedule. Exercise is important for health, caregivers are more at prone to stress because of their job, but by participating in daily exercise, it can help stave off physical and even mental health problems that sometimes come with being a caregiver. If you are looking for a safer environment for your loved one as they age, an assisted living facility may be helpful. At Landmark Senior Living, we have the tools and staff needed to help you or your loved one stay healthy and enjoy the next chapter in their life.