Being a carer often means you are time poor and exhausted, so why would you introduce more activities into your busy day? Part of the carer’s role is to ensure they are well enough to be there for their loved ones. Your good health is important, one of the factors of good health is movement, so incorporating some more movement into your day will improve your well-being and as a consequence, make you a better carer.
Every body system relies on us moving. Mental health and cognitive function, muscles and joints, hearts and lungs, hormones and mood, digestive health and gut microbiome, metabolism and blood pressure – all require us to move frequently and purposefully to be healthy. Studies clearly demonstrate exercise reduces all causes of death including cardiovascular-related events. Exercise can reduce the impact of chronic lifestyle conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, dementia and cancer.
I use the word movement as is it broader than the term exercise. Movement is about not sitting or standing still for large chunks of time. It does incorporate exercise workouts, if that is your thing, but it also includes dancing to your favourite song, walking your dog, throwing a ball, thinking about how you move when carrying out activities such as house work or shopping. Incorporating more movement into everyday life can also include parking your car further from the shop to increase your step count for the day. When hanging out the washing, think about squatting to pick up the next item and stretching up to peg it on the line. Be playful, have fun and be kind to yourself.
One way to get more movement into your life is to pick a movement you like, maybe a half pushup, and set a goal of two a day, no matter what. You are free to do more than two a day if you feel like it, but as long as you do two a day, you have met your goal and can be proud of your achievement. Setting unachievable goals only lasts as long as your will power lasts, setting an easily achievable goal leads to feeling successful and that builds life-long habits. Try to link this movement to a current habit such as after you brush your teeth, while the kettle is boiling, or after you make the bed, any activity you do daily that you can link to your selected movement. Another way to embed this new habit is to celebrate your achievement. It may sound silly but congratulating yourself will send positive signals through your body and increase the likelihood you will maintain the habit.
Having a movement practice does not necessarily mean large amounts of time or money. A small investment in movement can pay positive dividends.
Here are some more examples of what you can do to get additional movement in your day:
- Get up from you work desk every hour and walk around for a couple of minutes
- Take the stairs whenever possible
- Dance to a favourite song (on your own or with a friend)
- Bear crawl
- Park your car further away and walk the remainder of the distance to your destination
- Walk to the next bus stop
- Walk around the block (or around the house)
- A Mrs Doubtfire dance when vacuuming
- A squat when picking up items from the floor
- A triceps curl when you get an item out of the pantry
- Throw a ball (real or imaginary)
- Play games with the kids
- If you have a playground nearby, take the kids and join in rather than watching
- Get out into the garden
- Dead-lift a pot plant
As with any lifestyle change, please seek medical advice if you intend to take on a new exercise habit.
Have fun moving more.
If you’d like more information about how health coaching can help you make meaningful lifestyle changes that work best for your values, strengths and circumstance contact Annette for a discovery chat.
- Ronald C. Petersen et. al. (2018) ‘Practice guideline update summary: Mild cognitive impairment’, Neurology, 90(3), available at https://n.neurology.org/content/90/3/126
- Sedentary behavior increases the risk of certain cancers, JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 106, Issue 7, July 2014, dju206, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/dju206
- Kresser, K (2018) ‘Why You Need to Move Every Day to Get the Benefits of Exercise’ available at https://chriskresser.com/why-you-need-to-move-every-day-to-get-the-benefits-of-exercise/
- Edwards, Darryl (2019) ‘Why Working Out Isn’t Working Out’, TEDx Talks available at https://youtu.be/NoN2b-b2c0o