Tag Archives: exercise

Three Steps To Combine Caregiving And Exercise

If you are a caregiver of a family member, you are among some of the busiest people around. Perhaps you provide care for a disabled relative or an older adult by spending hours making sure your loved one is safe and well cared for. You often are juggling work and other family responsibilities. Finding time to spend on your own needs is a scarce commodity. Finding the time to exercise may seem like something you can’t do right now, but, caregiving and exercise can be done at the same time.

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Caregivers Can Get Fit At Home

As a caregiver, you likely do not have the time to hit the gym; this is especially true if you’re working, caring for your own family and taking care of aging parents. Medical experts, however, recommend we get up to 30 minutes a day of exercise in order to remain fit and healthy.

What’s a caregiver to do?

Here are some steps you can take to work fitness into your everyday routine in ways you may never have considered before:

  • Turn your chores into a fitness routine. When you’re vacuuming do it with more vigor.Exercise Programs
  • Picking up the newspaper from the curb? Work in a five minute walk.
  • Invest in an exercise bike or treadmill and walk on it or ride it when you’re talking on the phone.
  • If you’re cooking dinner, do some “counter push-ups” while the food is cooking. How? Stand arm’s length from the counter, stand on your tip toes and do some push-ups by pushing away from the counter.
  • Lift dumbbells. If you don’t have dumbbells, lift jugs of milk or canned goods.
  • If you’re waiting at the bus stop for the children, take a walk until the bus arrives.
  • When you grocery shop, park far away from the store and get in some additional steps.
  • Rather than taking an hour lunch break, take 30 minutes to eat your lunch and then take a 30 minute walk.
  • If you have a break during the day, climb some stairs.
  • Waiting in line? Do some “toe-ups” by standing on your tip toes and stretching your calves. Squeeze your glutes.
  • If you’re watching television use commercials for a short burst of a workout. Get up and walk around the house or march in place during commercials.
  • If you’re sitting on the couch, do some leg lifts.

You may not be able to devote a full 30 minutes at a time to a workout routine, but most every caregiver can find a way to work out on short, five to ten minute bursts! Taking care of yourself will give you the energy you need to care for your family.

 

 

Why Tai Chi Is Good For You!

Tai Chi is a Chinese practice and tradition that was originally developed for self-defense but evolved into a graceful exercise that can help reduce stress & anxiety and helps to increase flexibility and balance.

Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints which makes it generally safe for all ages and levels of fitness. It may be especially suitable for older adults who can’t (or may not) otherwise exercise. It also requires no special equipment and can be done inside or out. As with any exercise, it’s always a good practice to check with your physician before starting any routine. Continue reading

Getting Fit When You’re Over Fifty

It’s true that as we age we slow down and don’t get as much exercise as we did when we were younger. Unless a medical professional advises against certain exercise, there is no reason we can’t still remain active, In fact, medical professionals advise that staying fit not only helps us as we age by keeping us more limber and our bones stronger, but staying physically fit may also keep our brains more active and engaged and less prone to Alzheimer’s.

 

Friends out for a walk

Walking is great exercise. (Photo credit: justmakeit)

 

 Here are some tips for staying fit and healthy:

 

  • Don’t let “feeling tired” keep you from exercise. Even a slow-paced walk will invigorate you and create more energy. Moving on a daily basis helps keep our body operating at its peak and can help ward off obesity, diabetes and other ailments that impact us as we age.
  • Consistency counts. Exercising doesn’t have to consume your entire day, but you do need to commit to exercising on a daily basis in order for it to have a positive impact on your health. If you’re not in the habit of exercising regularly, start out slow and plan a short jaunt, but make certain you move quickly enough to get your heart pumping. Plan to walk for at least 30 minutes a day. It’s a low impact, heart healthy exercise that individuals of almost any fitness level can do. Walking lowers blood sugar and cholesterol, can help you lose weight and improve your overall strength. It’s always wise to talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise routine.
  • Fill up on water. Water is great for your skin and helps energize your muscles. You will also want to drink water before, during and after your exercise.
  • Wear the proper gear. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on fitness wear, but you do want to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes when you’re walking. Wear non-constricting clothing and wear a hat if you’re going to be outside walking in the sunshine. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
  • Pay attention to the surfaces on which you’re walking and take note of your balance. As we age, we more easily lose our balance and that can lead to a trip and fall accident. Simply by exercising though we strengthen our core muscles and improve our balance, so make certain when you’re starting a walking routine that you stick to level surfaces.
  • On the days when the weather doesn’t cooperate, spend some time in gentle stretching motions in your home. Stretching gets blood flowing to areas where it may have been restricted and also helps prevent muscle imbalance. Toe touches, stretches above your head and even deep knee bends or leg lifts using a chair for balance are great ways to get your stretching in.

 

Once you’ve committed to a fitness routine, make certain you also commit to a healthy diet. Eat lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables and consume at least eight glasses of water a day. Steps you take now to live a healthier lifestyle will go a long way in making your Golden Years more enjoyable!

 

Why Exercise Is Important As You Age

Does your need for exercise diminish as you age? Not at all, health experts say. As a matter of fact, the elderly need to remain active as a way to stay healthy, be able to age in place and prevent their muscles from atrophying because of insufficient activity. Additionally, keeping blood flowing to vital organs and the brain enhance life and health.

Lack of muscle tone and a non-productive active lifestyle can also lead toward depression and inactivity can make your aging relatives more prone to trip and fall accidents.  If you can impress upon your aging relatives the need for activity, they may be able to age in place and with the addition of a home medical alert device, this ability to stay safely at home is further enhanced.

Before beginning any type of exercise routine, you should check with a physician to make certain they’re healthy enough. For even the most sedate of individuals simply getting up and moving around or taking short strolls around the house is better than remaining sedentary. An exercise routine, to be effective, should be strenuous enough to generate blood flow and work the muscles without putting undue strain on the joints. A swim routine, if there is a pool available, is ideal for working out without putting stress on muscles and joints that may be ravaged by arthritis.

One of the main goals of any kind of an exercise program is to provide adequate exercise to maintain muscle mass and a general feeling of well-being. When you consider that getting up and moving around will help improve balance and overall health, simply getting up and walking could help prevent falls and broken bones. Getting into a habit of taking a daily, or even every other day, walk with the seniors in your life is a great bonding activity for the both of you and will also help assure they don’t suffer a fall if they’re out walking alone.

Many senior centers provide workout programs geared specifically to individuals in this age group and these programs are not only a great way to work out in a supportive environment but it is a great way for your senior to get out of the house and socialize.

Working out will enhance your seniors’ appetite, which wanes as they age; don’t forget to stock their homes with heart healthy food choices and fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

Exercise Increases Memory in the Elderly

While staying mentally active through mental stimulation (i.e. crossword puzzles, social interaction) is important to maintaining memory, physical stimulation through exercise is equally important to enhancing brain power. Physical activity helps to protect the brain from certain strains of aging according to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Those elderly individuals who engage in physical activity are better able to protect their brain from aging, and exercise has even been shown
to reverse some indications of aging.

According to recommendations from The Department of Health and Human Services, the elderly should participate in 150 minutes of moderate exercises a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercises a week. Partaking in physical activity gets your blood pumping everywhere in your body including your brain, which may aid in keeping your mind sharp.

The study by the PNAS showed that just one year of moderate physical exercise reversed shrinkage of the brain’s hippocampus and improved spatial memory. The hippocampus plays a vital role in long term and other types of memory, but as we progress into late adulthood the hippocampus begins to shrink – leading to memory loss and the increased risk of dementia.

Adults who remain active tend to have larger medial temporal lobes, according to the PNAS study. In the study 120 sedentary elderly adults were broken up into two groups: one group walked around a track for 40 minutes a day three days a week, and the other group stretched and did toning exercises. The researchers found that the group who participated in aerobic exercises increased the size of their hippocampus, leading to improved memory in the participants.

All the participants in the study had MRI brain scans done before the study began and then had another MRI a year later at the conclusion of the study. The individuals who participated in the walking group saw an increase in volume of their hippocampus by 2 percent – which is the equivalent of turning back the clock two years, according to the study. The individuals in the toning and stretching group lost about 1.5 percent of their hippocampal volume.

This study shows that regular aerobic exercise does in fact play a significant role in memory. Motivating your loved one to stay active not only makes their body less susceptible to falls and injuries, but also serves as an anti-aging device for their brain.

Exercise Increases Memory in the Elderly

While staying mentally active through mental stimulation (i.e. crossword puzzles, social interaction) is important to maintaining memory, physical stimulation through exercise is equally important to enhancing brain power. Physical activity helps to protect the brain from certain strains of aging according to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Those elderly individuals who engage in physical activity are better able to protect their brain from aging, and exercise has even been shown
to reverse some indications of aging.

According to recommendations from The Department of Health and Human Services, the elderly should participate in 150 minutes of moderate exercises a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercises a week. Partaking in physical activity gets your blood pumping everywhere in your body including your brain, which may aid in keeping your mind sharp.

The study by the PNAS showed that just one year of moderate physical exercise reversed shrinkage of the brain’s hippocampus and improved spatial memory. The hippocampus plays a vital role in long term and other types of memory, but as we progress into late adulthood the hippocampus begins to shrink – leading to memory loss and the increased risk of dementia.

Adults who remain active tend to have larger medial temporal lobes, according to the PNAS study. In the study 120 sedentary elderly adults were broken up into two groups: one group walked around a track for 40 minutes a day three days a week, and the other group stretched and did toning exercises. The researchers found that the group who participated in aerobic exercises increased the size of their hippocampus, leading to improved memory in the participants.

All the participants in the study had MRI brain scans done before the study began and then had another MRI a year later at the conclusion of the study. The individuals who participated in the walking group saw an increase in volume of their hippocampus by 2 percent – which is the equivalent of turning back the clock two years, according to the study. The individuals in the toning and stretching group lost about 1.5 percent of their hippocampal volume.

This study shows that regular aerobic exercise does in fact play a significant role in memory. Motivating your loved one to stay active not only makes their body less susceptible to falls and injuries, but also serves as an anti-aging device for their brain.

Exercise Your Way to a Fit Brain

Being in the sandwich generation does not leave you with much spare time, and with all the duties piling up on your plate, it can be even harder to remember all the tasks you need to complete in said time. For those of us hoping to retain healthy and active brains into middle age and beyond (or simply enhance our brain power now), the latest scientific studies offer some insight into how to improve one’s memory.

Remaining active appears to be critical in warding off memory loss. While there is no proven connection between preventing Alzheimer’s disease and exercising, remaining active can delay the  creeping memory loss that begins in our thirties. Canadian researchers found that elderly adults who remained active into old age via walking around the block, cooking, gardening etc. scored better on cognitive function tests than those who led wholly sedentary lives. The study was conducted over a five year period and about 90 percent of those with the greatest daily energy could remember and think just as well year after year, while those who were less active experienced more memory loss. According
to the researchers, vigorous exercise isn’t necessary to retain memory, simply completing household tasks and going for brief strolls play a large part on avoiding memory loss in the elderly.

Another study published in the Neurobiology of Aging produced similar results. While many people young and old have difficulties getting motivated to exercise, the Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience
Laboratory at the University of British Columbia have shown that vigorous exercise is not necessary for memory retention. According to their study, light-duty weight training effects how well older women think and how blood flows to their brains. After conducting a 12 month study where participants
lifted weights twice a week, the women performed significantly better on mental processing tests than a control group of women who participated in a balance and toning program.  M.R.I. scans also showed that the women who completed the light weight training showed that the portions on the brain that control thinking were considerably more active than the non-weight trainers.

As evidenced by the above studies, simply remaining active both now and into old age plays a significant role in retaining memory. While sectioning off extended blocks of time to exercise may seem almost impossible given your busy schedule,  making time to run errands, garden and complete household tasks isn’t as challenging. Your brain will reward you for remaining active now and into the future.

Sandwich Generation: Staying Healthy

The Sandwich Generation is the generation of people caught between caring for their aging parents as well as their own children. Thousands of families across the country are affected by this situation. It can be very stressful and hard on the individuals both mentally and physically. These stresses can cause those affected to gain weight and carry on an unhealthy lifestyle.

With the responsibility of caring for two different generations many people find it hard to find time to care for their own health. The combination of having less time and more stress and responsibility causes many people to put their own health and fitness on the back burner. This can result in weight gain and other health problems. These health issues can be avoided with proper time management and being able to take time for yourself.

One of the main things to remember is to some time to care for yourself.  You might feel overwhelmed in this generation squeeze but you must be able to step back and give yourself some ‘you’ time. We all need time for ourselves to do some things we love and get away from the everyday stresses of life. So give yourself a couple of hours a day to go to the gym or go for a walk or bike ride through your neighborhood. This will both relieve a lot of stress and also this exercise will give you more energy throughout the day.

It’s also really important to eat the right foods. Healthier eating will help to manage your weight and give you more energy. I know it can be difficult to find time in your busy day to cook a healthy meal with your busy schedule but there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re eating a healthy diet. One thing you can do is prepare meals ahead of time. During a Saturday or Sunday you can plan your meals for the week. Cook these meals ahead of time so you can just reheat and serve. This saves time and relieves one more stress you have. Also it’s a good idea to have fresh fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator for easy healthy snacking. Fruits and vegetables are easy to grab and go and you won’t have the temptation to stop at the local drive through.

It is possible to care for your parents and children and also give yourself the attention you deserve. Don’t let the generation squeeze effect your health and quality of life. Use these tips to help work through the stress and responsibility of living in the Sandwich Generation.

The 6 Secrets to Achieving Balance Every Caregiver Needs to Know

Drunk by real Love

 

As a caregiver, everyday is a mishmash of appointments and routines. From the moment you step out of bed the frenzy ensues. While there is slight comfort in knowing you are not alone, you struggle to find the individual time and outlets that make both your life and your familys’ a little less hectic. Knowing where to look to receive respite and remain level-headed separates the balanced caregivers from those constantly striving to find peace of mind. All caregivers need to be given the tools to find balance each and every day to maintain their sanity and continue to provide excellent care. With a few helpful tips and a couple inside secrets from seasoned caregivers, embracing your inter-balance is finally within reach.

 

  1. Alleviate Winter Blues: The winter months are often a breeding ground for feelings of depression. With the let down from the holidays, the absence of the sun and the ever present gray skies, it is easy to feel down. Leaving the house every day even becomes a challenge with the slick ice and chilling temperatures, however there is no need to allow these feelings to consume your life. Make sure you and your care recipient are getting proper exercise to raise your endorphins. Walk through the mall, join a gym or seek exercise classes for your parents at a local senior center. Make sure to schedule a weekly event both of you can look forward to, whether it is going to a movie, going out to eat or having a friend over to the house.
  2. Winter Proof Your House: Just as winter can be a catalyst for the blues, it can also lead to increased panic for caregivers as they assess safety threats brought on by the winter months. Safety proofing the house for falls is imperative – remove throw rugs and make sure handrails are secured both inside and outside the house. Buy proper winter wear for your loved one – boots with added traction and heavy duty coats are a must. Also ensure that snow removal is adequately handled and that every entryway and sidewalk is properly maintained.
  3. Plan, Plan and Plan Some More:  One of the most critical elements to maintaining your sanity is keeping appointments and activities straight. Make sure to keep your calendar up to date and carry a planner with you. Make arrangements for doctor’s appointments well in advance and stay up to date on all the activities your family has planned as well. Take a notebook with you to all of your loved ones doctor’s appointments so you can jot down what the medical professionals tell you. Also keep notes in this notebook between visits to document your loved one’s progress or write down any questions that may arise.
  4. Maintain Your Support Group: Establishing a tight knit support group will lessen the stress you are undergoing. You should not have to do it all alone, if someone offers their help, hold them accountable and take them up on it. Consult friends, family, websites, books and local support groups. Maintain open communication with your family members and siblings to update them on your parents’ health and request their help.
  5. Examine your care recipient’s current situation: Compile all of your loved ones medical records, health conditions, prescriptions, doctor’s names and contact information. Take inventory of their financial health including their property ownership, debts, income, expenses and credit card information. Make sure you also have access to your parent’s important documents including their will, power of attorney, social security number, insurance policies and deed to the house. Knowing you have this vital information readily available will save you much stress and time.
  6. Say Goodbye to Caregiver Guilt: Guilt consumes much needed energy that should be channeled elsewhere. Never feel bad for living your life and enjoying time away from your caregiver duties, your loved one would want you to. They lived a full life and now it is your chance to do the same. Schedule “you time” on a regular basis. Make time for your spouse, family and friends or enjoy a weekend away.

 If you take these simple suggestions to heart your life will still be interrupted by the occasional bout of chaos, but you will be equipped with the tools to manage these speed bumps and maintain mental balance. Most importantly, always know that you are doing your best, and that your parent appreciates all that you do even if they don’t, or can’t, vocalize it.