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November is National Family Caregivers Month

Tips to Help Caregivers Create Time for Exercise

November is National Family Caregivers Month. Each year, we take this opportunity to honor the millions of people in the U.S. who do so much to support the well-being of older parents, spouses with disabilities, and other loved ones.

In years past, the load was especially heavy for family caregivers. Whether their loved one lived with them, or independently in their own home, or in a senior living community, family caregivers had been scrambling to keep these elders safe and connected.

One item that can easily sink to the bottom of a family caregiver’s to-do list is exercise. Much research shows that the stress and workload of family caregiving increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, dementia and even early death. Exercise lowers the risk. And yet, the busy day of a caregiver can pass so quickly that there is no time for physical activity. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Make exercise a priority-Create a motivating reminder and post it on the refrigerator door or your bathroom mirror.
  • Set up a home exercise station-If it’s hard for you to leave your loved one alone, work out to an exercise video, ask your doctor for a set of home exercises, or if it’s feasible, set up a modest home gym with weights and other equipment.
  • Make time for “exercise snacks.”-Do quick sets of exercises, such as jumping jacks or squats. Lift weights or march in place if you’re watching TV with your loved one. Every little bit counts.
  • Find ways to be active with your loved one-Most likely, the person you’re caring for has some type of prescribed exercise routine. Doing those exercises with them could motivate them and provide you with a few more “exercise snacks.”
  • Combine exercise and socializing-Even if you spend many hours each week on caregiving, it’s important to spend time with other loved ones and friends, as well. Double the benefit by going for a walk with your spouse or taking an exercise class with a friend.
  • Carve out time for a solitary workout-Exercising alone can give us time to clear our heads, making it the ultimate “me time.” It can also mean a higher-intensity workout.
  • Get help-When carving out time to go to the gym or for a run, you might hesitate to ask other family members or friends to help but ask anyway.

Caregiving is hard work. Exercise helps you build the stamina and resilience to be a better caregiver for your loved one.

To access the full article on increasing exercise as a caregiver, click here.

In partnership with the YMCA, Hally Health focuses on a variety of topics aimed at people of any age or fitness level who want to stay healthy and active. Try this HIIT workout that’s sure to get your heart pumping. To view all our YMCA partnership fitness videos throughout the month, please visit or