6 Fun Activities That Count As Exercise

27 Comments

When you're caring for someone else, it seems there aren't enough hours of the day to get everything done. Of all the things you want to do in your "spare time," exercise might be the last activity on your list. Yet out of all the activities you could do, exercise may be the most beneficial because it can keep you from getting sick, help you sleep better, and increase energy throughout the day.

But if it feels like one more chore or routine that you don't look forward to, you are less likely to follow through on your good intentions. The good news is, you don't have to work out at the gym 5 days a week to get in shape. Although all exercise takes some effort, it doesn't always have to feel like work. So find some help watching mom or dad for a few hours a week, and take care of yourself.

6 ideas to help make exercise feel more fun

  1. Enlist a friend: Find someone to be your exercise buddy. Don't choose just anyone: Pick someone who is full of energy, fun and who you look forward to spending time with. That way, you'll want to exercise just to be with your friend. Look for someone who's more committed than you, so they can keep you motivated.
  2. Group Fitness: Group classes are a way to meet new people, and be motivated to go each time. Local Parks and Recreation departments or Community Centers offer low-cost group exercise programs, such as yoga, tai chi, step aerobics and water exercise classes. They are a great way to improve flexibility, muscle tone and relaxation.
  3. Take a Lesson: Get outside and learn a new skill. Book a golf or tennis lesson, and get to swinging. You'll not only burn calories, you'll also learn new skills and have fun.
  4. Dance: Dance your way to better health. Square dancing or ballroom dancing are excellent ways to increase endurance and improve balance. The latest dance exercise craze is Zumba, a combination of Latin dance and exercise moves. Dancing enhances cardiovascular function and endurance, while practicing muscle memory routines effectively exercises the whole body. And simply put, it's fun.
  5. Hang Out With the Kid: Drag the kids away from their cell phones and computers, and start a game of basketball, soccer or baseball. Form teams, make it a weekly competition, hold practice sessions, and maybe even come up with some prizes for the winners at the end of the "championship series."
  6. Play Games: Think hanging out in front of the TV with a remote in your hand doesn't qualify as exercise? It does if you're playing a fitness game, like Wii Sports. Wii tennis consumes 179 calories per hour, and Wii boxing 174. Of course, those numbers are a fraction of the real-world activities (tennis is 318 calories per hour, and punching a boxing bag is 382) but its better than if you had lounged on the couch munching on a bag of chips.

Exercise is Crucial for Caregivers

Of course, playing Wii doesn't really count as a balanced exercise regimen. Your goal is 30 to 40 minutes of moderately intense exercise three or more times a week – but every bit counts. So give yourself credit for seemingly small accomplishments, cut yourself some slack and have fun!

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27 Comments

This is a disappointing article. It's only relation to the specific topic of how caregivers can manage to get some exercise is the statement, "...find some help watching mom or dad..." After that is devolves into just another generalized and very short list.

What caregivers need are tips on how to get exercise when outside help (or sitters) are not an option. The Connecticut Elder Home Care program has made it possible for me to have a day for errands and groceries. Hopefully soon it will be possible for me to have a few blocks of time to get some work done (I am an artist and work at home but it's hard when my mom needs so much attention). Exercise is necessarily going to have to be done in small chunks of time while I am caregiving.

Someone had the idea to do some exercise where the parent is and even if they can't do any themselves, they can watch and interact. I'm going to do that. Right now, I do some crunches, kegels, and back exercises when I wake up. It's not enough, but it's a start.
Hooboy, where do they come up with these ideas and why are they posted on a Caregiving site?

Yes indeedy. Let's round up enough kids and cousins or grandkids and neighbors, etc. to form baseball or soccer teams, then conduct weekly practices, and shop for tournament prizes, and contact everyone when the weather looks bad and take on responsibility for Janie when her mother phones to say she is tied up in traffic and will be an hour late, and ... well, if you've been you know what I mean. And if you have enough kids to set up tournaments within your own household and you are also a caregiver for an elder, all I can say is Holy Cow! If you are using the little respite you can arrange to become a sports director, you need more help than you can get on a website! :)

This is really a pretty good list for finding enjoyable ways to work exercise into your life, IF YOU ARE NOT A CAREGIVER. I read it because I know I desperately need to get more exercise. It was disappointing.

Think I'll just go take a walk ...
Here are my tips for getting more exercise while being a caregiver
1) Smaller free weights for arm exercises - use these while you sit with your caregivee. Make jokes about getting into shape. If she also has some exercises (my sister bought my mom a bike pedaling thing that sits on the floor and while sitting our mom can, if encouraged, pedal along. Canned goods can be substituted for actual weights

2) Do a quick walk, arms swinging if possible, around the house when you are moving from place to place. Bounce in place, lightly. when standing. Stretch when reaching up shelves.

3) Do some gardening (especially digging and sweeping) while your caregivee sits in the sun.

4) Run up the stairs.

5) Dance in the kitchen.

6) Callenetics type curls before you get up for the day. I do between 30 and a hundred of these (ok, right after getting up to urinate) followed by my kegels and back exercises and occasionally some leg things from when I was a ballerina.