When it comes to staying active and getting exercise, many caregivers find it’s the last thing on their minds. Faced with a lengthy list of daily responsibilities, many feel they do not have the time to do daily exercise.
That’s understandable. However, sometimes a little motivation is all anyone needs – a reminder of why it’s important to take care of yourself as well as others. The following looks at some of the benefits of staying active and in motion each day.
It may seem basic to some, but a reminder of the benefits of exercise is never a bad thing.
Ways to Stay Active
Before getting into the benefits, just a reminder that there are many ways to get a bit of exercise each day. A brisk walk is one of them. Another is gardening, which is part of what we offer at Hope Grows. Light stretching, even exercises you can do while seated, will help your body stay healthier. There are also fitness classes, such as those for yoga, and there’s also swimming or using an exercise video in your own home.
Enjoying an activity with others is also a fantastic way to help both your physical and mental health.
The Benefits of Staying Active
These are some of the way that exercise help you, immediately. Some of them you might not know are happening at the time, but the benefits are always there.
Exercising every day leads to more relaxed muscles, better blood flow and easier respiration, all of which leads to a more relaxed feeling. The body produces less cortisol, which causes stress, and more endorphins, which reduce stress and boost your mood. The mental aspect of this is important as well. By getting out of the house – especially if you walk or talk a class with other people – you lose the feeling of isolation that can become an issue with some caregivers.
When you exercise, you might find that you are much sleepier when it comes time for bed. No one exactly why this happens, but most experts agree it’s a combination of things. Exercise raises the body temperature, and the drop after exercise may promote better sleep. Exercise can also decrease feelings of depression and anxiety that keep you awake at night.
According to the Harvard University Medical School, regular exercise that stretches muscles can prevent injuries, reduce back pain and help with your balance. When a muscle is stretched, it achieves its full range of motion better. That means you have less a chance of injuring a muscle while doing daily tasks such as bending, stooping or reaching.
Burning calories through exercise, coupled with a healthy diet, can help you maintain a healthy weight. That, in turn, can also help with feelings of anxiety or depression for many people. You also will find that you have more energy to take on the tasks of the day.
Less stress, more energy, sleeping better and losing weight – all of that will add up to you feeling much happier. This doesn’t mean that after Day 1 of exercise you will feel happy (although you might). But as exercise becomes a daily habit, the benefits will become more noticeable, both in how you feel and what you see in the mirror.
Things to Keep in Mind
For those who don’t exercise regularly right now, the first lesson is don’t overdo it. You only need a set amount of exercise each day. Think about the following.
- Most people need about 30 to 40 minutes of moderately intense exercise about three times per week
- Do light exercises, such as taking a walk or gardening
- Keep it simple – you can start with walks, then add more exercise as you go
- The important thing is consistency
Keep these fundamental ideas in mind as you think about staying active and keeping your body in motion each day. It doesn’t have to be a complicated fitness plan. The important thing is to start – and keep doing it consistently. Your body (and mind!) will thank you.