Jennifer Cares

When I was caring for my mother-in-law during her end-of-life journey with cancer, getting any kind of physical activity wasn’t even on my radar.

Between the running from our house to theirs, working as a TV news anchor, breastfeeding a newborn daughter, and taking care of three toddler sons and a husband I didn’t have time or energy to exercise!

Even the thought of working in, working out was crazy!  I know from talking with hundreds of other family caregivers that many others feel the same way. 

We caregivers are busy people, and because of that, it’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking that we have been more active than we actually have. “Whew! What a busy day,” we say.  We feel drained, and we are drained—mentally, even emotionally—-but physically we may not have done much of anything, at least not consistently.

Not getting any exercise while I was taking care of my mother-in-law, combined with lack of sleep, poor eating habits, and higher than normal stress levels created a situation where I gained weight, lost energy, and more.   

In this week’s Caregiver Coaching blog, I want to help you to realize that moving more doesn’t have to be flashy or expensive.  It can be easy. I have learned that when it comes to exercise, every little bit truly helps, and you can experience big positive results in just a little time.

One of the doctors I interviewed for Take Care Tips puts it to his patients who don’t feel they have enough time to exercise like this, “Give me 30 minutes a day.” When they say they could never carve out that much time, he says, “Then give me three ten-minute chunks, or six five-minute chunks, or ten three-minute chunks, or thirty one-minute chunks!”  He’s trying to help people to break down that big 30-minute barrier into little manageable pieces.

Exercise makes us feel better and healthier.  After just a few ten-minute sessions you’ll notice it’s easier to move through your day.  Keep it up and you’ll start to feel firmer.  Your clothes might get a little loose.  Others will notice and give you compliments that that will make you feel better about yourself.  Moving more will give you more energy.  You’ll start to make more healthy choices.  Physical activity also:

  • helps improve intimacy
  • boosts your immune system
  • increases good cholesterol, breaks down bad cholesterol 
  • helps to manage or prevent Type 2 diabetes
  • strengthens the heart and lungs
  • helps you to have better quality sleep  

Taking  a “baby steps” approach to exercise and healthy eating has me 46-pounds slimmer, and much, much stronger!  One 10-minute tip is not an exercise program, but one 10-minute tip will start you on your way…and the most important thing you can do is get started!

What are you going to do today?

  • Get up and walk out the door! Pick a direction and keep going.  Keep an eye on your watch and after five minutes, turn yourself around and head back. Vary your pace to get a little interval training, which will boost the benefits to your heart.  Aim for three of those sessions a day.
  • Pick up a firming band, some light weights, some water bottles, or soup cans, and spend ten minutes doing some arm work.  Using a slow, steady motion, raise and lower your arms to the front, to the side, and over head.  Don’t worry about “sets” or “reps” just move. Let yourself feel those muscles working.  This is a great, easy way to boost that metabolism any time of day!
  • Dance! I’m learning how to do the Salsa for a celebrity dance event for charity, and I’m having so much fun! It doesn’t feel like exercise, but my body has definitely changed since I’ve started.  It doesn’t have to be so formal though, turn on some music and just let yourself go. Get the kids or grandkids moving with you.  You’ll laugh together, which is also great stress relief!

I also love Zumba and Yoga classes. I take body sculpting classes a couple of nights a week, too.

What works for you when it comes to exercise?




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