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How to Stay Physically Fit When You are a Caregiver

How to Stay Physically Fit When You are a Caregiver

Caregivers lead busy lives. Most care for a senior loved one while also working at least part-time and raising a family of their own. When the days are long and time is short, it’s easy to put exercise off until “tomorrow.” 

Fatigue can also play a role. Getting motivated to workout when you already feel exhausted isn’t easy, but it is important. Exercise is the best way to protect your own health and well-being during this stressful time in life.

Why Caregivers Need to Make Time for Exercise

Here are a few of the benefits of exercising when you are a caregiver:

  • Relieves pain: Caregivers report higher levels of neck and back pain, headaches, and stomach problems than their non-caregiving peers. Exercise is one of the best ways to relax tight muscles, while also increasing strength.
  • Increases stamina: Improving cardiovascular fitness and core strength helps to increase stamina. Greater stamina aids in managing the demanding and often exhausting days caregivers face.
  • Reduces stress: Exercise decreases stress hormones in the body. For caregivers, stress is a part of daily life. Finding healthy ways to manage it can lower the risk for depression and anxiety.
  • Promotes happiness: Physical activity releases endorphins, the “happy hormones” that boost mood, strengthen the immune system, and modulate appetite. 

As a busy caregiver, what can you do to stay physically fit when time is short? Or when you can’t leave your loved one alone to go to the gym or yoga studio?

We have a few suggestions you might find useful.

Physical Activities for Busy Caregivers

  • Morning exercise: If possible, schedule exercise in to your morning routine. Set your workout clothes and shoes by your bedside each night to prompt you to tackle it before the day begins. It’s much more tempting to avoid exercising if you wait until the end of a busy day when you are tired. 
  • Split the time: Busy caregivers might struggle to find 30 continuous minutes to workout during the day. The good news is that research shows splitting your workout up into two shorter sessions will help you reap the same health benefits. So you could ride your recumbent bike for 15 minutes first thing in the morning, and take a 15 minute walk later in the day.
  • Better breathing: Some forms of exercise like, yoga and Pilates, also teach better breathing techniques. Working these types of exercise in to your day a few times a week can help you better manage anxiety and caregiver stress. 
  • Seated activities: Another way to increase your physical activity is by engaging in exercise you and the senior you are a caregiver for can do together. Chair yoga, Sittercise, and other forms of seated exercise can all help you stay fit.

Lifestyle360 at Five Star Senior Living

Residents of Five Star Senior Living have opportunities for wellness every day. Through our Lifestyle360 program, communities offer a wide range of activities including Chair Pilates, Tai Chi, swim therapy, lawn bowling and more. Stop by at your convenience to participate in an activity of your choice!

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