Easy workouts for caregivers

As a stay-at-home caregiver for my disabled husband, my daily at-home workouts are vital for my physical health and mental sanity.  Luckily, I have danced and exercised for most of my 61 years—nothing extreme, as I am more weakling than athlete—but just enough to be fun and keep me in shape.

Over the years, I have amassed a large collection of workout DVDs—each DVD contains from 3 to 6 separate routines, including warm-up exercises and cool-down stretches.  I do part of one DVD each day, spending only 20-30 minutes.  The variety keeps me from getting bored: aerobics; strength training and toning with 3-lb. weights or toning band; kickboxing; Pilates; floor exercises; and lots of dance, from hip-hop, jazz and salsa, to “Dancing with the Stars” routines.  Some workouts are more aerobically challenging, and some are just easy fun.  If there’s a day when I’m not feeling up to par, I may just do the warm-up and cool-down sections of a DVD for stretching and blood circulation.

Workout DVDs can be found online and in stores of all kinds (even the grocery store!); many can be had for only $10-$12.  There is an endless number of video workout choices, from extremely challenging all the way down to simple exercises that chair- or bed-bound people can do.  My favorite video instructors are Chris Freytag and Jennifer Galardi—their varied routines are fun and clearly taught, with moderately vigorous levels of exertion.

These home workouts do not require a huge amount of space; I do them in a relatively small area of my family room.  I don’t need to push myself to go out to a gym, which can be inconvenient and expensive;  nor do I need a gym-presentable workout wardrobe—I just wear whatever is comfortable!

As we age, it’s important to keep stimulating our minds—learning new dance routines works our memory and coordination skills.  I do my daily workout in the late afternoon, to re-energize me for the second half of my challenging caregiving day; if I miss exercising on any day, I really feel draggy.

Of course, you should check with your doctor before taking on new exercise routines if you do not ordinarily exercise, and always listen to your body to avoid over-exertion or injury.