Friday, May 1, 2009

Is Your Fitness Supporting You in the Marathon of Caregiving?

Having a parent with Alzheimer's, whether you are doing the care at your own home or visiting and supporting your parent at a facility, the "progression" of the disease can go on for many years. You need to have the physical stamina as well as emotional support to weather the storm of these many years of concern, grief, and even the guilt

... guilt of feeling you are not doing enough, guilt of not being able to do SOMETHING to take your parent out of this situation they would not want to be in, AND the supreme guilt of feeling it would be a blessing for your parent to die. Ouch! We can go back and forth with wanting them to be at peace and then feeling like a terrible child to want their parent dead.

Whew....I feel anxious even talking about that to you.

So, back to the exercise. What can you do to increase your stamina, stimulate your endorphins that contribute to a more positive emotional state, and alleviate your stress?

It depends on the amount of time and freedom you have to take time for physical movement. You can do various exercise routines in your own home. With the multitude of DVD's available for many types of exercise, you can work out when you have a small segment of time. And it's not so important to have a huge amount of time in the exercise mode. What the latest research is showing is that short bursts of strenuous exercise are the most effective way of increasing your cardiovascular system and controlling or releasing weight.

If your schedule allows it, I highly recommend participating in organized workout classes at a physical facility. This gives you some social connection as well as a very energizing environment.

I've made my fitness a high priority the last few years. I've always enjoyed working out, but have amped it up as the stress and grief have been with me since Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

When there's Alzheimer's in the family, there is a cloud hanging over with everyone wondering what will happen next. Will the patient know us the next time we visit? Can we plan a vacation or do we feel as though at any time, we'll need to be with our parent?

I've enjoyed Yoga and Platform Pilates, Exercise Ball classes, and weight machines and the elliptical previously at Bally's... I combined this with Curves for awhile to incorporate a quick, mindless workout that I could fit in easily.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to join 24 Hour Fitness. Had a great deal buying a 2 year membership through Costco. I just happened to see an ad in their online mail and jumped at the opportunity. After joining, I learned that they had a New Member Challenge and signed up for that and looked at how I could earn points. I say I'm not a competitive person, but it seems when there is a challenge I do get engaged!

I saw that if I did 100 workouts in the 6 months, I could earn 2 extra points. In calculating all the points possible, I could see that I could qualify for a BodyBugg, a product by Apex that 24 Hr Fitness offers for sale from $199 - $249 if I earned the total possible points of 24. The BodyBugg allows you to easily keep track of calories burned. You wear it on your arm while working out or all through the day.

AND, I checked my records yesterday and see that I worked out over 100 days in the last four and a half months! I enjoy a variety of workouts from cardio in the water, Yoga, Zumba (great vigorous dance class), Turbo KickBox, the elliptical machine, weight-training machines, and Salsa Dance classes. I also enjoy being outdoors, whether walking around my neighborhood lake or hiking our urban mountains here in Phoenix.

Cross training is the very best way to develop fitness and a healthy Body Mass Index. I make a point of planning a variety of activities each week. One of the keys to staying on schedule is having all the proper clothes and equipment lined up. I use those canvas L.L.Bean bags to have everything ready to go for water work and yoga.

I can't tell you how much this physical exercise has supported me in staying Sane, Healthy, and as a result more Professional! I highly recommend your finding some way of moving your body on a regular basis. You'll survive the marathon of having Alzheimer's in the family and even thrive in the midst of a challenging situation.

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