Look after yourself: find time to exercise

Most of us find it difficult to put aside time for exercise but as little as 30 minutes of moderate activity every day will help you to sustain the physical and emotional demands of your caring role. 

Regular exercise improves resilience, strength and flexibility, promotes better sleep, reduces stress and depression, and increases your energy and alertness. It also helps you to lose weight, builds your immunity and protects you against common health problems.

Pre-existing health conditions

If you have a health condition, make sure you talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

Getting started

Starting a new exercise program is probably the most difficult part:

  • Begin small by doing some brief exercises at home - a few stretches, lifting weights
  • Build up your confidence by following an exercise program on TV or DVD
  • Set a time for yourself to do something active – start with10 minutes a day and work your way up 30 minutes or an hour
  • Incorporate exercise into everyday activities - walk to the shops, climb the stairs, get into the garden or step up escalators instead of riding
  • Listen to your favourite music and dance around the house while doing the housework - music can motivate!
Find the right program

Walking

Walking is one of the best and easiest exercises and is a great way to get started.

Walking as little as 20 minutes a day, three times a week, can be beneficial. If you can't get away regularly, try to work walking into your daily routine - walk to the shops, to the station, around the block or in the park with a friend.

Try walking a little faster than you normally do. If you work up a sweat and feel your heart working you have increased the benefit.

Join a walking group. There are lots of walking groups around. Here are a few organisations that list groups:

Park walking groups; http://www.victoriawalks.org.au/

Seniors online walking groupshttps://www.seniorsonline.vic.gov.au/goldclass/articles/walking-groups

Heart Foundation Walking Groups in Victoria: https://walking.heartfoundation.org.au/walking/victoria

Yoga

Yoga is designed for people of all ages and levels of fitness. Your instructor will help you to work at your own pace, listening to your body and gradually encouraging it to stretch and strengthen.

Check out your local community centre, local directory or council to find out where classes are held.

Many yoga studios have classes for all ages and abilities so you can find a group that suits you.

Swimming

Swimming is a gentle exercise which you can take at your own pace. You can schedule time to swim laps by yourself, or your local swim centre or gym may offer programs like deep water treading or aqua-aerobics.

Cycling

For those prepared for a greater challenge, cycling can improve your fitness and help you to get around. If you don’t feel comfortable cycling on busy roads, check out your city council for details of cycling paths in your area.

Join a gym

Gyms often have cheap rates for people who want to exercise at non-peak times or for people over the age of 50. They offer a wide range of classes to suit all ages and abilities – pilates, aerobics, circuit training, weight training, or (for the more energetic) step classes or Boxercise. Many gyms can offer a fitness assessment and advice on the best programs for your age and level of fitness when you take up a membership. Ask at your local gym whether they offer an off-peak rate

 

Keeping up motivation after the first rush of enthusiasm can be difficult. Sometimes it can be hard to keep yourself on track:

  • Set realistic goals and don’t be too hard on yourself if you sometimes fall short. Remember you can always schedule another session;
  • It’s often easier to stick with a program if you have an ‘exercise buddy’. Find a friend who is also interested in improving their fitness (preferably one at about the same level as you);
  • Join a class and make it a social part of your week;
  • If you feel like missing an exercise session, focus on how good you will feel afterwards;
  • Reward yourself (in a healthy way) - go out for dinner or a movie, buy a book or DVD, have lunch with a friend or treat yourself to a facial or massage.

Find an alternative that suits you

Any activity that gets your heart pumping and your body moving can be beneficial - try gardening, bushwalking, golf, table tennis, martial arts, tai chi, ballroom, swing or latin dancing.

Connect with an organisation to get active in your community:

Organisation Activity Website

YMCA 

Find a program ranging from gymnastics to school holiday activities. http://victoria.ymca.org.au/locate.html
VicHealth

Physical activity options for women and girls

https://thisgirlcan.com.au/ways-to-get-active/
Neighbourhood Houses Victoria

Neighbourhood houses are a great way to connect with others in your local community providing diverse activities from exercise  to art classes.

https://www.nhvic.org.au/
Victorian Men's Shed Association

There are more than 300 Men's Sheds across Victoria. Find a local shed to meet other men and get involved in some great projects ie carpenty.

http://www.vmsa.org.au/
Life activities clubs

There are loads of things to try – theatre, travel, bushwalking, mahjong, book groups, golf and more

http://life.org.au/
Healthy parks healthy people Parks Victoria have offer information about walking trails, activities and volunteer opportunities to connect with others.   http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/
 Local councils  Visit your local council site to see what's available. 
 https://www.vic.gov.au/government-economy/local-councils/victorian-local-councils.html
 Living Longer Living Stronger  Living Longer Living Stronger partners provide strength training programs specifically designed to meet the needs of older people. 
 https://cotavic.org.au/
 Victoria Walks  Find walks to meet your needs; Dog-friendly walks (on and off-leash),  Kid-friendly nature walks or walks by council area.  http://www.victoriawalks.org.au/
For more information, read the fact sheets titled, Caring and stress; Managing stress; Eating well and Healthy food for busy people.