Unpaid carers find physical activity harder compared to other adults and face poorer health outcomes as a result of caring, according to recent research. Yet, unpaid carers who were able to do more physical activity saw real health benefits.
More than 6.5 million people in the UK are unpaid carers who support a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill. Charity Carers UK’s ‘Carers and Physical Activity’ report examined unpaid carers and physical activity, focusing on the barriers, motivation and experiences of unpaid carers aged over 55.
The research revealed that many carers face problems with their own health and wellbeing as a result of their caring role and provides clear evidence that unpaid carers are at a health disadvantage when compared with their peers who don’t have caring responsibilities. The study found carers are less likely to take part in physical activity and can face significant barriers in doing so. The report also shows that loneliness and the inability to take part in physical activity are linked.
Now Carers UK has partnered with digital workout specialist, 1FitLife, to create bespoke activity wellbeing videos as part of its Carers Active Project to help address the challenges the Carers and Physical Activity report revealed.
Carers Active, the three-year project, funded by Sport England, has allowed the charity to create a ‘Carers Active Hub’ to help this group make being active part of their daily routine in the light of research that shows carers are often isolated and finding the time and affordable access to physical activity is challenging.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:
“Caring can have a huge effect on people’s lives, plans and normal routines. Physical activity is often the last thing a carer would be thinking about while they may be looking after a loved one, family member or friend.
“It is important that carers look after both their physical and mental health, and so it was essential that we found accessible routes for unpaid carers to embrace their own wellbeing.
“The videos are tailor-made specifically for carers, taking into account the various challenges they face which carers have told us are so important. We hope that these videos will provide some of the motivation and help carers to incorporate more physical activity into their day.2
The sessions last 15-20 minutes each and are supplemented with a series of 30-second videos demonstrating simple, functional movements and stretches, which people can incorporate into their daily lives.
David Langridge, Managing Director at 1FitLife added:
“The programme we created was always mindful of carers’ circumstances, understanding their energy levels and time available may be short. The online sessions are simple, often with seated exercise variations, and were voiced over in post-production to gently guide carers through the routines. It was important to 1FitLife that the sessions help carers not only to get more active, but to improve their self-worth and value.”
Claire, a carer from Bournemouth, who participated in the filming of the 1FitLife exercise sessions said:
“It can be difficult to find time for yourself when you are an unpaid carer, let alone prioritising your own health and fitness, and you can feel tired and unmotivated. The new activity and wellbeing videos feel achievable and sustainable as they’re only 15 minutes long, which easily slots into my day. It’s great that I don’t have to travel or get cover for or leave the people I care for to take part, as I can do it in the comfort of my own home. I’m looking forward to making the videos a part of my regular routine and enjoying the benefits of improved strength and movement.”