15 exercises caregivers can do at home

While watching an aging parent or grandparent battle a chronic illness is tough enough for caregivers, oftentimes the very act of caregiving can prove detrimental to a caregiver’s own physical and mental wellbeing.

In fact, the Family Caregiver Alliance shares that caregivers are more likely to experience physical ailments compared to non-caregivers and have an increased tendency to develop a serious illness. The emotional fatigue that accompanies caregiving can also increase the risk for depression and anxiety caregivers may feel.

One of the best ways to stave off lifestyle diseases, combat stress, and practice self-care is to exercise. But what do caregivers do when they can’t afford expensive gym memberships or simply can’t take a break from their loved one to go to a fitness class? That’s where home exercises come into play!

Don’t miss this quick list of simple workout ideas and exercises caregivers can do from the comfort of their own home:

  1. Use resistance bands – while dinner cooks, as your loved one naps, while you listen in on a conference call . . . you can do resistance band work pretty much anywhere at any time if you have the space and equipment to do it.
  2. Laundry lunges – are you hauling another load of clothes from the dryer to fold? Do lunges on your way out of the laundry room instead of walking while holding the entire basket of clothes over your head.
  3. Wobble with it – use a wobble board/balance disc to engage your legs and core and practice balance and strengthen your coordination skills while you are on the phone or working at your computer.
  4. Squeeze a stress ball – this exercise serves a dual purpose in both helping you relieve tension as well as building up your grip strength. Research has shown grip strength to be a key indicator of health-related quality of life in old age.
  5. Bounce on a stability ball – swap your usual chair out for a stability ball that allows you to bounce up and down. Not only does it keep you moving, but stability balls also require you to use more muscles to balance and stay upright.
  6. Pre and post-shower squats – before you hit the shower, do 10 squats and repeat another 10 when you are finished showering. It’s an easy habit to develop and wakes up your leg muscles in the morning.
  7. Pedal exercise – sitting down and doing a puzzle with your loved one? Watching a movie together? Get a portable pedal exerciser that sits on the floor in front of you and allows you to continuously pedal to exercise your legs and feet no matter what you’re doing.
  8. Walk the dog – are you in the habit of simply letting your dog out into the yard to go to the bathroom? Use your pet pooch as an excuse to get outside for a short walk. Even a 10-minute jaunt in the sun and fresh air can leave you feeling more relaxed and alert.
  9. Practice yoga – did you know you can stream free yoga tutorials on sites like Youtube? Follow a knowledgeable instructor as they guide you through stress-relieving, flexibility-building yoga poses and stretches.
  10. Juggle (with your feet) – tap into your inner soccer player and get a little cardio by juggling an imaginary ball with your feet. Start by bringing up your left foot and tapping it with your right hand and then bringing up your right foot to tap with your left hand. Then do the same thing but touching your ankles. Pick up speed and repeat as long as you can.
  11. Run up and down your stairs – if you have a staircase in your home, initiate a handful of reps throughout the day where you run up and down the staircase, first one step at a time and then two.
  12. Do a cardio sprint – inject an effective cardio session into your day with equipment-free exercises like jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and jogging in place.
  13. Hold a plank – find one thing you do every single day, like put coffee on in the morning or check the mail, and add a plank to it. Start with what’s comfortable, maybe it’s 30 seconds or 1 minute, and then work up to longer durations by adding 15 seconds to it each week. Over time you can add in variations like side planks too.
  14. Lift dumbbells – you can find lightweight dumbbells at used sporting goods store at a steep discount. Keep them on hand at home and intermittently do bench presses, hammer curls, and bent-over rows throughout the day whenever the mood strikes.
  15. Jump rope – it might make you feel like a kid again, but boy is jumping rope a surefire way to get your heart rate going. Plus, it requires more coordination and agility than you might think which is great for your brain health too!