Quick exercises for a busy NDIS support worker

4-minute read – NDIS Carers Series – NDIS Support Worker Exercises

As each year comes to an end, and we enter a new year feeling just a little older and a little more tired, many of us make promises that we will look after ourselves more in the future.

If you’re anything like us, you have a good talk to yourself and promise, “Ok, next year, I will eat better, I will exercise more, I will take the time to have at least a few minutes to myself regularly to clear my mind.”

And the list goes on, “I will budget better and save more, I will spend more time with family and friends, I will eat out less…”

The fact is, life is so busy, especially as a shift-based NDIS care worker, that it would be almost impossible for any grown adult to keep all of those promises and still manage to do everything an adult has to do.

What we can do, is focus on one or two areas each year, and work some simple, maintainable solutions into our day-to-day lives.

The more these solutions complement our existing routines, rather than disrupt them, the more likely we are to stick with them.

This month, we spoke to fitness expert, Jess Lee, who provides training and support to adults of all ages in Sydney’s west.

As a busy mother of a one-year-old and a six-year-old, and having worked with clients who have shift jobs, Jess understands the challenges of staying physically fit.

“For myself, and for many of my clients, finding the time to exercise, even that twenty minutes per day all the TV ads talks about, is a challenge all of its own. But I have found, if I combine exercise with other activities I have to do, I can kill two birds with one stone.”

Based on our interviews with NDIS support workers, we know you can relate, with respondents telling us again-and-again that exercise and looking after yourselves just isn’t often a priority.

To help ensure you can slide on into next year feeling more physically fit and healthy, we worked with Jess to put together a simple exercise routine that adds in a little stretch here and there, among your normal daily activity.

1.    Morning exercises for NDIS support workers

While saying ‘morning’ and ‘exercise’ can be all too much for some people, actually, a few stretches and a little elevation of the heart rate can help you feel less tired than no activity at all.

“Sometimes, starting the day with a bit more energy can actually promote more energy,” Jess says. “On the other side, if we start sluggish and stay sluggish, there’s every chance we won’t feel anything but sluggish all day!”

Jess suggests kicking off your exercise routine at breakfast.

“When I’m making my breakfast, I take a couple of minutes to do some simple shoulder presses with our 2 or 3 litre milk cartons before popping the milk on my breakfast.”

“I have a small frame, and pick up kids all day, so, like NDIS support workers, I need to have strength and resilience in my shoulders and upper body.”

“After a couple of reps, I switch it up and do some bicep curls with those milk cartoons. The weight isn’t intense at all, so there is little-to-no-risk of injury, but it is enough to wake our arms up in the morning!”

“To finish off my morning routine, I will often work in some deep lunges while I hang my washing, and I try to get in 80 squats while I brush my teeth. This simple routine, works your upper and lower body, and gets you ready for an action-packed day.”

2.    Exercising while at work

Our working hours take up most of our day, in fact, most of us spend more time at work then we do anywhere else.

With this in mind, if you can add a little exercise into your working day, you can tick it off your list of to-dos and have more time to relax when you get home after your shift.

“Getting to work is a great opportunity to exercise. If you can, walk or jog to work or to the next public transport stop. This not only introduces some activity, but gives you a rare chance to get some sun and fresh air, if your job keeps you cooped up inside all day,” says Jess.

“Once at work, the best time to add in some exercise is at lunch – see if you can get your colleagues on board with a tricep dip challenge each day!”

“This is a really simple exercise and can be done by standing in front of a chair as though you will sit on it, taking one big step forward, placing your hands behind you on the chair, then dipping down and standing back up. See how many you and your colleagues can get in before the microwave pings!”

“You can also elevate the heart rate by skipping, doing jumping jacks or doing some high knee running on the spot while your food warms up.”

“Many workplaces also have stairs, so adding a few calf extensions or lunging by taking multiple stairs at once every time you go up and down those stairs, will be good for the legs and glutes.”

3.    Exercising after work

If you’re anything like us, the only thing you want to do when you finally get home, is sit on the couch and binge watch some Netflix.

“Well,” Jess says, “you can still binge watch your favourite show, you should just do it from the floor!”

“Try lying on your stomach and running a few reps of skydive or superman stretches, which are great for your core or adding in some bridges, sit ups or crunches.”

“At the end of the day, when you combine everything you’ve done, you have taken care of your upper body, core, back, legs and glutes, and you haven’t really added any extra time to your day or paid for an expensive gym membership.”

As an NDIS support worker, especially for those of you working multiple jobs or for multiple employers, time is tight.

But with more of you noting your own physical health can come a distant second, and can be a concern, these simple exercises can help you look after yourself while looking after others.

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