When I first started talking to caregivers, one of the most common self-care themes I heard was that it’s so hard to get enough exercise. Caring for a loved one is such a huge commitment of time, energy and focus that even finding a few minutes to take a walk was hard, as many caregivers told me.
Yet, most of us understand the need for physical activity to keep our bodies and minds in good shape. In addition to improving cardiovascular health, controlling weight, and strengthening muscles and bones, regular exercise can have a profound effect on our mental health. Exercise relieves stress, improves memory, helps us sleep better, boosts our mood by releasing endorphins, and much more.
By making exercise a priority, you’re also setting a good example for your loved one. For them, regular physical activity can build resistance to mental health disorders, help control medication side effects, reduce feelings of isolation, and increase self-esteem.
Still, many of us know we’re not getting enough exercise, and we need to make a change. But change is hard, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Sometimes, all we need is a start, and there are many ways to get started. Just stepping outside for a moment and breathing in some fresh air can help you get moving. If you go downstairs in the morning, go down and up and back down again – do an extra set of stairs! During the day, you can even pick up some soup cans and use them as weights for arm exercises (yes, that’s really a thing).
Being mindful in your approach to exercise also can help. Set a mindful goal to make exercise one of your highest priorities, and do whatever it takes to get yourself moving.
Still need more ideas? Here are some more tips to show that making exercise a part of your life might be easier than you think.
Just start out small and work toward your goal. And don't give up on YOU!