Keeping in Shape While Caring for Paraplegics

May 27, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

When you’re caring for a paraplegic, the demands on your time, as well as on your physical, mental, and emotional energy, often seem endless. At times it feels like all of your activities, your attention, and even your entire life revolve around caring for your loved one. It’s all too easy to neglect taking care of one’s own self. But that’s a terrible mistake. In order to provide the very best quality of care, you need to stay in shape, in both body and mind. Here are a few tips about keeping in shape when you’re a caregiver.

Get enough exercise regularly.

We’re not necessarily talking about a fierce regimen of training at the gym. Your requirements are pretty much the same as is generally recommended for everyone else. We just don’t want you to forget that, when you’re so wrapped up in caregiving. A good goal is 30 to 40 minutes of relatively strenuous exercise, at least three times a week. A lot of literature on exercise encourages working out continuously for at least 30 minutes. While that may be optimal, don’t be afraid to break that up into shorter segments, if that’s all you can manage. If you can even take three 10 minute breaks a day and get a little exercise in, you’ll be staying active and keeping in shape.

Walking is great exercise.

If you can get to a gym regularly, you’ll surely be able to take advantage of a variety of facilities and machines to exercise on. But again, if it’s too challenging to fit that into your schedule and lifestyle, don’t give up! Exercise can be something as simple as a walk around the neighborhood. And don’t think that it’s just a cheap substitute for “real” exercise. Studies have shown that walking can be one of the most effective forms of exercise.

Don’t forget strength training.

You don’t need to set any world records for weightlifting. But you know better than anyone just how strenuous your work is. It’s hard to lift your paraplegic family member in and out of the wheelchair and bed, especially if you’re not keeping in shape. You need to have a strong core, your center of gravity around your trunk and pelvis, to do all that heavy lifting.

Stretch out.

Caring for paraplegics includes, as we said, lots of lifting. In addition to being strong, you’ll need to keep your muscles stretched out. This will keep you at much lower risk of pulled muscles, sprains, and other injuries that can occur when your muscles are too tight.

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