Exercise and Caregiving

If done right, exercise can help reduce stress, increase energy, and make you a better caregiver.

The Importance Of Exercise For You

No one is too out-of-shape, too tired, or too busy to benefit from a regular exercise program. We often hear about the benefits:

Lose weight! Feel good! Sleep better! Prevent osteoporosis! Prevent heart disease! Reduce stress!—and they’re all true.

If you have excuses, “I’ve never exercised before,” “My knees and feet hurt too much,” or “I don’t have time,” do yourself a favor. In as little as 10 minutes a day, and as few as three days a week, the right exercise will help you feel better, sleep better, reduce stress, and enjoy life more.

Some General Guidelines When You Exercise

  • Set aside a specific time every day for exercise.
  • Be consistent. To get benefits from any exercise program, do it regularly.
  • Warm up and cool down; stretch both before and after you exercise.
  • Start with as little as 10 minutes of exercise a day and increase gradually to 30 minutes for maximum benefits.
  • Use the talk/sing test. To find out if you’re exercising hard enough or not enough, use this simple check. If you can’t talk and exercise at the same time, you’re working too hard. If you can sing and exercise, you’re not working hard enough.
  • Always ease into an activity for the first five minutes, and slow down the pace for the last five minutes instead of stopping suddenly.

Exercise Ideas

  • Take a daily walk. Find a friend to walk with. You will encourage each other when you’re tempted to take a day off.
  • Try an exercise video. Look for videos for beginners. Avoid starting with programs that include jumping and twisting. Instead, try videos for stretching, muscle toning, or relaxation. A note of caution: Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
  • Check out exercise classes offered through community centers, gyms and senior centers. Look into yoga, tai chi or other non-traditional exercise programs. They are a great way to improve flexibility, muscle tone and relaxation. Call your community swimming pools about adult swim times or water exercise classes. Many pools offer classes just for seniors or others who want a slower pace.
  • Dance your way to better health. Square dancing, ballroom or folk dancing are excellent ways to increase your endurance and improve your balance.

If you think you need help to find the right exercise program, ask your doctor for advice.

Originally written and published by the Aging and Adult Services Administration Department of Social and Health Services, State of Washington. Reprinted with permission.

© Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

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