July is ‘Good Care Month’, and after the year we’ve had, we thought it was time we give some consideration to the carers themselves.
For many people care is a career choice, but for thousands of others it is something that has been thrust upon them. When a loved one becomes ill or less able to look after themselves, we can find ourselves taking on more and more responsibility.
And while you may adapt to the situation happily and without complaint, it is important that you also take the time to look after yourself.
According to a recent research project conducted by Carers UK, many carers report that they would like to do more physical activity but find it hard to fit it in.
At The Mayfair GP we are passionate about lifestyle medicine and the benefits it brings. Physical activity has a huge positive impact on both our physical and mental wellbeing.
Here are some ways that you can increase your fitness without neglecting your duties:
If you have a tendency to drive to shops or doctors appointments, why not take the time to walk occasionally? It might not always be possible or convenient, but a walk can raise your heart rate and lift your spirits, and the fresh air will help too.
Even just a turn around the block will make a difference. If it’s possible to take the person you care for with you, then the change of scene will do you both some good.
Make fitness part of your routine
You don’t have to get up at 6am for a run to make exercise work for you. Even if you only get half an hour to yourself mid-morning, there are short Youtube fitness videos that you can do. And you can put your feet up for ten minutes.
Make the most of what you’ve got
Gym memberships can be expensive, and so can home exercise equipment. But you can get the same effect without the hefty price tag, just by being a bit resourceful.
Got a couple of cans of beans in the cupboard? Use them as weights for strength training. A dressing gown cord can make a great yoga band! It’s all about adding a bit of resistance so your muscles have something to work against.
Looking after yourself matters
When you’re caring for someone else it’s easy to forget about your own needs. You may push them so far down the list of priorities that you may as well have forgotten them. But remember: the stronger and fitter you are, the better carer you will be.
Increasing your strength and stamina through physical exercise now will only make things easier. Especially as the physical demands of caring become more challenging.
For more information on how you can improve your health and wellbeing through lifestyle choices, visit our lifestyle medicine page or get in touch!