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Fitting in Fitness – for Caregivers
Posted By alz02 On October 21, 2010 @ 4:59 am In ALZ Guide,Diet and Exercise,Diet and Exercise,PYM | No Comments
By Jennifer Newton Reents, R.N.
Making time for physical activity shouldn’t be a last consideration—especially for caregivers. Put fitness at the top of your list.
It’s all too familiar. You are stressed and tired, and find there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done. Taking care of a loved one can be hard on the mind, body and spirit, and unless the caregiver takes care of important personal needs, detrimental to those under one’s care. Symptoms of caregiver stress include:
Peter Schroeder, author of Reverse Parenting: How to Survive Caring for Your Aging Parents, says caregiver stress is often caused by denial of the situation, over-scheduling of everyone involved and physical neglect of oneself. One of the best ways to relieve that stress is through exercise.
“Exercise is one of the basic components of good health, which minimizes the likelihood of excessive stress. The way exercise works best, and most successfully, is to have a regularly scheduled time, and a variety of ways to exercise,” says Schroeder, who cares for his elderly father.
The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends exercising three times per week to maintain a healthy level of fitness. The council suggests the following guidelines based on your goals:
Stuhr says weight training/strength training also promotes bone growth in the specific bones involved in the exercise. “Muscles are attached to bone and every time a muscle contracts, it pulls on its bony attachment, stimulating a bone response,” she says. “Strength training is a great way to improve bone health if you have osteoarthritis and have difficulty tolerating certain types of weight-bearing activity.”
Sounds like a lot to find time for? Schroeder suggests exercises such as stretching, walking and yoga may also involve the loved one.
Along with the detrimental physical effects of not exercising, such as weight gain as well as other health issues, come the mental health issues of being overstressed without relief.
“Everyone needs some sort of physical outlet,” says Barbara E. Friesner, host of Age Wise Living , the VoiceAmerica.com radio show, and creator of The Ultimate Caregiver’s Success System. “This is especially true of a caregiver for someone with dementia.” Friesner also suggests physical activities that the whole family can enjoy together, such as bowling.
“If a caregiver doesn’t exercise, they’re just stewing in their own anxiety and not countering all the stress. Ultimately it can lead to mental and/or physical breakdown - including deep depression,” Friesner says.
Exercise directly improves mood and leads to better sleep patterns, and might even prevent you from developing dementia-related disorders, says Karen Spangenberg Postal, Ph.D., a board-certified neuropsychologist and president of the Massachusetts Psychological Association.
“Importantly, it also triggers a process of neurogenesis (new cell growth) in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for creating new memories,” she says. “It is well documented that individuals who exercise are less likely to develop dementia.”
Finding the Time and Inspiration
Find your motivation, says Gregg Mumm, a certified fitness trainer and author of Lose Weight, Gain Energy: How To Enjoy Exercise. (HowToEnjoyExercise.org ). Decide why exercise is important to you— losing weight, health, getting your diabetes under control, etc.—and make that your goal.
Exercise first thing in the morning to avoid unexpected interruptions, Schroeder says.
Hire someone, Mumm says, if you are able, to do other tasks such as cleaning your house or mowing the lawn. That way you have time to take care of yourself.
“The good news is that even exercising for a brief period—5 to 10 minutes—can produce huge results,” says Dave Hubbard, former NFL player and the creator of the Fit10 Fitness system .
Hubbard recommends the following:
Of course, before beginning any type of exercise program, always check with your health care provider.
Source: www.ALZinfo.org . Author: Jennifer Newton Reents, R.N., Preserving Your Memory: The Magazine of Health and Hope ; Winter 2009.
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 Age Wise Living: http://www.agewiseliving.com
 HowToEnjoyExercise.org: http://www.HowToEnjoyExercise.org
 Fit10 Fitness system: http://www.Fit10.com
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 Preserving Your Memory: The Magazine of Health and Hope: http://www.alzinfo.org/preserving-your-memory-magazine
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