How to be more active
It can be so hard to overcome the barriers to becoming more active. If you’re caring around the clock, it can feel almost impossible to find the time. In fact, ‘76% of carers aged 55+ are not able to do as much physical activity as they would like,’ according to the findings of our recent survey.
Fortunately, now, there are more options to take advantage of than ever, so hopefully you will be able to find an activity to suit your lifestyle. Even the smallest changes can add up to significant gains.
Finding time to get active can be difficult but you won't have any regrets when you see what it could do for your long-term health. The short-term gains too should soon be noticeable, from feeling fitter and having more energy to feeling more productive and having a calmer, clearer and more confident frame of mind.
The idea of exercising can be daunting if you’ve been inactive for a while so start slowly and gradually build up your stamina levels. The NHS’s Couch to 5K programme is a great example. Do contact your doctor for advice though if you’re concerned about a condition you have or are worried about the impact it will have on your body initially.
Finding someone to help whilst you take time out to be active and look after yourself can be challenging.
You could try making an arrangement with a family member, friend or trusted neighbour to see if they could look after the person you care for for an hour or two.
See what services are provided by your local carers’ organisation or council. You can search using our local directory. You could also request a carer’s assessment and explain that you need support to allow you the time to exercise, rest and take care of yourself.
There are also activities you could try that might be enjoyable to do together from seated martial arts to dance. Our Share and Learn sessions are provided online via Zoom and are free. They cover a range of activities. You can browse previously recorded ones here, such as seated martial arts and Pilates.
If it’s practically impossible to take any time out, try to make small changes to increase your activity levels during your daily routine such as using the stairs smartly by repeating two up then two down steps.
Or if you're too exhausted and caring around the clock, it's important to arrange a carer's assessment, making it clear how your own needs and health are at risk through not getting the opportunity to have any you time. See our guidance on how to arrange one.
Try not to let guilt get in the way – and note that even small adjustments can go a long way to improving your sense of wellbeing.
These are some of the key motivations to becoming more active according to our research. You could write notes as reminders for when you can feel your will power fading or some people find a good incentive is to have a treat lined up as a finishing goal:
Here are some common motivators:
- to improve my health / manage my health condition
- to relax and unwind
- to improve your appearance
- to become fit
- to feel good
- to sleep better
- to have fun
- to feel part of something.
Even if you can't leave the home easily, there are lots of options online now from dance and yoga to martial arts. You can find tips for activities you can try out at home on our 10 wellbeing tips page. Also browse our Share and Learn videos for activity suggestions.