Lifting your loved one or supporting their weight when they walk may seem like a workout in itself, day in and day out. However, there are many reasons you need to go beyond your usual caregiving duties and find a way to truly exercise each day.

In addition to physical health benefits – like helping you maintain a healthy weight, strengthening your muscles and bones and improving your own flexibility and coordination – routine exercise brings about a stronger and happier you for caregiving.

Family caregivers know that finding an hour to hit the gym is often impossible, especially if the loved one you care for is medically complex or can’t be left alone. Discover new and interesting ways to exercise at home with these 7 ideas:

 
 

Hand Strengthening

Did you know that your own dexterity and hand strength can be a predictor of your health and independence down the line?

Exercise your forearm and hand muscles with grip strengthener tools, therapy putty, even stress balls throughout the day while you’re on the phone with doctors, waiting in line at the pharmacy, speaking with your loved one, etc.

This type of exercise can also help you release built-up tension you might be carrying around, decreasing your stress levels.

Stability Ball

Not only can you use an exercise or stability ball for a home workout, it can also serve as an alternative to your typical chair when you are eating with your loved one, watching TV, working on the computer, etc.

Sitting on an inflatable stability ball requires both better posture and frequent muscle engagements as you make small, continuous corrections to your body position in order to remain balanced and upright. They’re a blast to bounce and roll on as well!

Yoga

This isn’t the first time you’ve heard yoga recommended as a go-to low-impact home exercise. For family caregivers, however, it’s an even more pertinent option for both physical fitness and emotional stress relief.

It’s easier than you think to start practicing yoga regularly in your home, you simply need to find a way to schedule it into your daily routine.

Start small, with 15-minute yoga sessions, and then work up to longer bouts of time as your schedule allows – involve your loved one when possible too! Find helpful yoga videos online.

Walking

If you think that a short 15-minute walk – which might be the only break you can afford! – won’t really achieve any real health benefits, think again.

Hopping outside for a quick walk, whether it’s up and down the street or simply around the house, offers you rejuvenating fresh air, healing sunlight, and the relaxing sound of rustling trees and chirping birds.

Live in a bustling city? Pop in headphones and play nature sounds on your smartphone while you walk the busy sidewalks.

Squats

Do you do a lot of standing during the day? Whether you’re standing brushing your teeth, cooking at the kitchen counter, or even helping feed your loved one, take a few seconds to dip in and out of squats.

Squats engage your thighs, hips, buttocks and knees, helping to strengthen the bones and connective tissues in and around them. If you have arthritis or have had a previous knee injury, wear a supportive knee brace to help prevent straining your knee joints.

Resistance Band Training

What’s small, discreet and easy to store and yet a super effective workout tool? You got it – resistance bands. These long, colorful bands of stretchy rubber can be used just about anywhere: wrapped under your feet or around sturdy poles or doors.

Stretch, pull, tug and align them to engage stabilizing muscles like your arms and core and build strength. To avoid locking or over-extending your joints, check out gentle or senior resistance band workout tutorials online.

Pedal Exercising

If you can’t find a discount recumbent bike – i.e., at a garage sale – or if you simply don’t have space for it, think instead about getting a low-cost portable pedal exerciser.

Work your feet and leg muscles but in a low-impact way that doesn’t over-stress the knees. Pedal exercisers can sit under your desk or at your feet while you watch TV, schedule appointments, use the computer and so forth.

It’s critical to remember that the mind needs a workout when you’re caregiving, too. While remembering appointment details, medicine schedules and important numbers all challenge the brain in effective ways, finding a creative and problem-solving outlet can also help with stress relief and your own confidence.

Try out a new hobby like puzzles, crocheting, collaging, painting, knitting, or coloring, and potentially uncover a new passion, too.

Are you a family caregiver who struggles to find time to exercise? What are some other go-to home exercises you like to do? Please share in the comments section below!

Jessica HeggJessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living a healthy lifestyle. Through her writing, she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others. You can find her on Twitter @Jessica_Hegg.

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