helping you solve the riddle of mental illness in your family
Why is exercise important? Because it keeps your body healthy. It keeps your mind healthy too. It generates immense energy for work, play, and caregiving. There's almost no reason not to exercise. Even after my dad's cancer surgeries, he was told to get walking in the first few days. It's a must!
When exercise doesn't make sense
Sure there are times when exercise doesn't make sense--use your intuition to sense when that is the case and ask your doctor for advice too. And of course it makes no sense to overdo it--to push yourself too far.
Develop an internal feel for your exercise needs
But getting a feel for exercise so that you know when your body and mind need it, this will pay off great health dividends when you act on that finely tuned sensibility. And your baseline happiness will increase too.
In general, exercise will give you so much more energy than it takes.
Just start with a short walk!
You don't have to run a marathon or do a triathlon to be healthy. Even a daily 1/2 hour walk is better than nothing. And if you are just getting started, like I was when I burned out as a caregiver and couldn't even walk up the stairs (much less down the block) take it slowly! Build up your strength every day a little.
When you have done nothing for a while, even 5 minutes a day will get you started. When you are in a rut, physical therapists can help, doctors can help, and most of all, doing a little something active can help.
My mother, the exercise instructor
My mom was an exercise instructor and noted that people would come in wheelchairs to water-aerobics class and after a few months could slowly walk again. That is the power of gentle exercise. That's the sort of thing that answers the question, why is exercise important?
As you build an exercise habit, you can build in a little aerobic exercise. It starts to expand the range of your body's capacity to move, makes you feel less sluggish during the day, and produces a bit of a natural high.
Why is exercise important? As you exercise, particularly when you do aerobic exercise the heart, lungs, and blood flow are affected, and so is your brain.
According to the Mayo Clinic, when you do aerobic exercise, oxygen volume in the blood is increased, the heart beats faster, increasing blood to the muscles and lungs, capillaries widen to carry more oxygen to the muscles and carry away waste products such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Endorphins are increased --they act as natural painkillers and help you feel better.
The Mayo clinic lists 10 benefits to aerobic exercise:
Your exercising helps your loved one. Wow.
And it will help your caregiving. Sometimes dramatically. If you are asking why is exercise important besides helping you? It actually has a spill-over effect on your sick family member. Your loved one will see someone who is in a better mood, and more energetic. A little of that may rub off on him or her. You might be a little less irritable, a little less worried. And you might be a little more pleasant. That will surely help, even in subtle ways.
And who knows, maybe (s)he will start exercising too! (Don't try to push that on them though.) Your attention to your personal health and well-being may likely rub off on your loved one at some point, and they may just do the same.
How to start exercising
So, if you are not exercising in a way that you know would be good for you (and your loved one), what is keeping you from doing so? List the reasons. Rank them, from the most important reason to the least important.
Then ask yourself: what needs to be in place for me to address each one of these reasons? How can I put that into place? And if it is a simple question of desire, ask yourself what sort of exercise you could do where exercise is not the primary goal. Dancing is a great example.
Then the question is no longer, why is exercise important, but how can I get more exercise?
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