Exercise for a Busy Carer

31/01/19

We understand the demanding working hours that being a live-in carer calls for, but are you using your time off to care for yourself?

While some may enjoy reading a good book, and others meeting up with friends and family, for those interested in fitness it might not be suitable, or you may not have time to attend a fitness class or gym. However, there are a number of ways you can utilise objects from around your clients, or your own home, to help you get to your desired fitness level. Just a simple 20 minute workout can boost your energy, strength and fitness. Here we have just a couple of suggestions for quick and easy exercises you can do around the home:

If you have concerns before undertaking any exercise, seek advice from your GP.


Use two filled water bottles to do some bicep curls:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Keeping your arms by your side, slowly bend them until the weight in your hand reaches your shoulder. Slowly lower again.

A simple dining room chair can be used to do multiple sitting and standing exercises:

  • An upper body twist - sit upright with your feet flat on the floor, cross your arms and reach for your shoulders. Without moving your hips, turn your upper body to the left as far as is comfortable. Hold for 5 seconds, repeat on the right side.

  • Arm raises - Sit upright with your arms by your sides. With palms forwards, raise both arms out and to the side, and up as far as is comfortable. Return to the starting position. Keep your shoulders down and arms straight throughout. Breathe out as you raise your arms and breathe in as you lower them. You could also use two filled water bottles, to add a little more resistance.

  • Mini-squats - Rest your hands on the back of the chair for stability and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly bend your knees as far as is comfortable, keeping them facing forwards. Keep your back straight at all times. Gently come up to standing, squeezing your buttocks as you do so.

  • Sideways leg lift - Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability. Raise your left leg to the side as far as is comfortable, keeping your back and hips straight. Avoid tilting to the right. Return to the starting position. Now raise your right leg to the side as far as possible. 
  • Leg extension - Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability. Standing upright, raise your left leg backwards, keeping it straight. Avoid arching your back as you take your leg back. You should feel the effort in the back of your thigh and bottom. Repeat with the right leg. Hold the lift for up to 5 seconds.

A multitude of effective exercises can also be done using a yoga/Pilates mat, or simply on a soft floor:

  • Push-up – With your palms flat on the floor, position your hands shoulder-width apart with your fingers facing forward. Slowly shift your weight forward until your shoulders are positioned directly over your hands and fully extend your feet out behind you, with little to no bend in the knees. Contracting your core/abdominal muscles, your glute and quadriceps muscles, align your head with your spine. Slowly lower your body towards the floor while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Lower yourself until your chest or chin touch the mat/floor. Press upwards through your arms while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Continue pressing until the arms are fully extended at the elbows.

  • Bent knee sit-up/crunches - Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head, squeezing your shoulder blades together and pulling your elbows back without arching your low back. This position should be maintained throughout the exercise.
    Align your head with your spine, but allow the chin to move towards the chest during the upward phase of the exercise. Exhale, contract your abdominal and core muscles and flex your chin slightly towards your chest while slowly curling your torso towards your thighs. The movement should focus on pulling your rib cage towards your pelvis (the neck stays relaxed while the chin is tucked towards the neck). Continue curling up until your upper back is lifted off the mat. Hold this position briefly.
    Gently inhale and slowly lower your torso back towards the mat in a controlled fashion. Your feet, tailbone and lower back should remain in contact with the mat at all times. 

  • Front plank - Lie on your stomach on the floor with your elbows close to your sides and directly under your shoulders, palms down and hands facing forward. Contract your quadriceps to extend your legs and pull toes towards your shins. Contract your core and abdominal muscles to stiffen your torso.
    Slowly lift your entire torso off the floor or mat, maintaining a stiff torso and legs. Avoid any arching in your low back, hiking (upwards) in your hips or bending in the knees. Keep your shoulders positioned directly over your elbows with your palms facing down. Continue to breathe while holding this position for a specified time (5+ seconds). While maintaining a stiff torso and extended knees, gently lower your body back towards the mat or floor before relaxing.

  • Forward lunge - Stand with your feet together. Pull your shoulders down and back without arching your low back, and engage your abdominal/core muscles to stiffen your spine.
    Slowly lift one foot off the floor, stabilizing your body on the supporting leg. Avoid any sideways tilting or swaying in your upper body. Hold this position momentarily before stepping forward. The raised leg should initiate contact with a heel strike first, slowly transferring your body weight into the forward foot placed firmly on the floor. As you load into this leg, avoid any sideways tilting or swaying in your upper body and try not to move the supporting foot. As you lunge forward, focus more on dropping your hips towards the floor rather than driving your hips forward. Continue lowering your body to a comfortable position or until your front thigh becomes parallel with the floor and your shinbone is in a slight forward lean.
    Firmly push off with your front leg, activating both your quads and glutes thighs and butt muscles to return to your upright, starting position.

These are just a few exercises, but a quick Google or YouTube search will be sure to find many more.

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