Six Easy Exercises for Caregivers
Studies show that one-third of caregivers provide intensive care, yet they are also in fair to poor health. In fact, caregivers are often at risk for increased blood pressure, insulin levels and cardiovascular problems. One of the ways to counteract these threats to health is by exercising. But how can one find time to exercise when so much time is eaten up by caregiving? The answer is to try and incorporate some quick but simple exercises while you are performing your care giving duties. Here are five simple things you can do that can help improve your health. They only take a few minutes of your time to do each one. Just incorporating one or two of these into your daily routine can increase strength, endurance and flexibility. Do several different ones each day. Start out slowly and don’t attempt to do any that might strain your back or your knees.
Squats are one of the most effective exercises for improving the lower body and core muscles. All you have to do is stand tall with your feet apart, extend your arms out in front of you and squat as if you were beginning to sit down, by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Only squat as far as you are comfortable. You do not need to go all the way down. Pause, then slowly come back up to a standing position. Try to do five to start and slowly work your way up to ten.
Alternative pushups are another effective way to build up upper body strength. Instead of pushing yourself up from the floor, stand around 3 feet away from a wall and lean forward, placing both hands on the wall. Bend your elbows and bring your chest toward the wall then push away until your arms are straight again. Once you feel comfortable doing at least ten of these, try to do the same exercise but only using one arm to push yourself away.
The high knee balance can help to strengthen your inner thigh and outer hip areas. As you attempt to maintain balance, you also tone the calf, quadriceps, hamstring and buttock muscle of the leg you are standing on. Start by holding onto a chair and raise one leg just above a 90° angle. Let go of the chair and try to maintain your balance for five seconds. Lower the leg and repeat on the other side. Take care not to arch or round your lower back and to keep your pelvis stationary during the exercise to reduce back strain.
Torso rotation works the obliques, or side abdominal muscles. This exercise involves rotating the torso along the spine axis in a standing position. First, engage your abdominal muscles by tightening your midsection. Exhale and rotate to one side, keeping your hips facing forward -- your hips might move slightly, but the twisting action should occur at the waist. Rotate your head, chest and torso simultaneously. Pause for a count, and then inhale and slowly return to the forward-facing position. Twist to the opposite side, and continue alternating sides.
To maintain spine flexibility, stand comfortably with your feet shoulder length apart. Lift both arms above your head, clasping your hands. Gently pull your shoulders back and stretch tall. Hold for thirty seconds then lean right, and hold for fifteen seconds, then lean left and hold for 15 seconds. Then straighten up and repeat the sequence several more times. Over time you will notice your flexibility increasing and you will be able to add repetitions to the sequence.
Invest in an inexpensive set of hand grippers. A study done on hypertension in 2013 showed that hand-grip exercises can reduce your blood pressure by ten percent. Squeeze the gripper and hold it for two minutes, then do the same with the other hand. Spend around 15 minutes doing this three times a week and you could lower your blood pressure.