We’ve all heard that exercise is “good for you.” But is it really all it’s cracked up to be?
You bet it is. For caregivers, it can make the difference between pain and harmony.
There seems to be no end to the benefits of exercise. Studies have found that regular exercise can prolong life, keep your lymphatic system moving, build stronger bones, and help maintain a healthy weight among many other things. And those are just the primary benefits; as a result, you are less likely to suffer from arthritis, broken hips, sore knees, and countless other ailments caregivers are often only too familiar with.
Caregiving is already a physical job. Adding a workout when you’re full of aches might sound like a recipe for pain. However, you will find your level of hurt decreases as your body strengthens. Exercises that work with your “core” – your abdomen and mid to lower back – are especially helpful in reducing pain in a life full of lifting, crouching, and bending.
Here’s a simple core exercise to get started;
Lie down on your back. Keep your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest, touching your shoulders (you’ll look sort of like a mummy!) Take a deep breath. Then, keeping your chin straight up, lift your upper back and shoulders off the floor while tightening your belly. Remember to slowly exhale as you go up – it keeps your blood pressure from rising during this exercise. Hold for three seconds, then slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Take another good breath, and repeat. Do this a few times every day or two, and your (not you’re) core will grow stronger.
Want something even easier? Try going for a nice, refreshing walk! If you can, a stroll outside in fresh air can calm your mind while the cardio exercise does wonders to help your body. Over time, build up to short spurts of brisk walking, followed by a few minutes of slow walking. This alternate walking intensity is an easy, yet most beneficial exercise.
Even if that’s not an option, there are plenty of ways to benefit from walking. “Mall walkers” visit their local mall and stroll from end to end (a setting which might be fun for some, not for others). Going up and down stairs at home is another, often quieter choice. Or, if you can afford it, investing in a treadmill could be worthwhile.
Oxygen feeds your muscles, so it’s important to take full, deep breaths while exercising. Using essential oils also oxygenates your system. Scientific studies have shown that therapeutic essential oils increase the intake of oxygen and ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the fuel for individual cells. Black Pepper is a single oil noted particularly for increasing cellular oxygenation. In studies conducted at Vienna and Berlin Universities, researchers found that sesquiterpenes, found in essential oils such as Cedarwood, Frankincense, Melissa, Patchouly, Sandalwood, Vetivir can increase levels of oxygen in the body and brain by up to 28% (Nasel 1992).”
One or two drops of an essential oil, applied to your hands, then rubbed over your head, neck, chest, and/or bottom of your feet is all it takes.
Research indicates that when essential oils are diffused, they can increase atmospheric oxygen and provide negative ions. My understanding is that all the low pressure, low heat, steam distilled therapeutic grade oils increase the uptake of oxygen in the body. All the citrus oils are excellent and smell so good.
Caregivers, if you feel cooped up or are too exhausted to exercise on a regular basis, rethink those thoughts – your caregiver performance will get better as you get more oxygen in your system and as you strengthen it with regular, even if brief, activity and essential oils.
With Love and Gratitude.
P.S. also an excellent choice is the “Rebounder.” It gets your lymphatic system moving – and those benefits are excellent and needed.