Take 10 - A Caregiver Exercise Program

Family Caregiving September 23, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

The Surgeon General advises at least two and a half hours of aerobic (meaning with Oxygen) exercise each week. Ten minutes a day is a good place to start. Exercise could involve swimming, biking, running, or walking. However, getting any kind of aerobic exercise when you’re an involved caregiver is not easy. Some caregivers say it’s impossible.

As a caregiver, you probably get plenty of physical activity but formal exercise is different. Physical activity is any form of movement that uses energy, including all activities of daily living. Lifting or moving the person for whom you are providing care is one example.

Exercise is activity of greater intensity and duration harder than typical daily activities. It involves planned and repeated movements that have the potential to maintain or improve physical fitness.

Here’s how you, as a caregiver, can get more exercise:

  • Pay attention to how you breathe. Focus on breathing more deeply and increasing your lung capacity. During your caregiving day, periodically stop what you are doing, and take a few deep breaths, slowly in through the nose, and out through the mouth.
  • Walk briskly for ten minutes—it is one of the easiest forms of exercise. If you need to be immediately available to the person you care for, measure a track around the inside of the house and walk it at a specified time each day. Ten-minute increments are the perfect beginning. Do more if you choose, but not less.
  • Acquire a stationary bike and place it in front of your favorite chair. Pedal for ten minutes several times each day. Do it while watching television or folding clothes. Pedal longer if you wish, but never less than ten minutes at a time.

For additional information, visit the Mastery of Aging Well learning lesson Physical Activity in Later Life.

Click One of the Links Below to Access More Lessons in the Mastery of Aging Well Series


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.