Has your “get-up-and go” got up and gone? Following a diagnosis of cancer, it’s easy to become sedentary. Fatigue, pain, anxiety, fear, and sadness are common. Cancer and cancer treatments impact one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. If you are reading this, you may be tired and hope that by initiating an exercise program you might have more strength and stamina. Perhaps you used to be in fairly good shape, but since your diagnosis, you’ve lost a lot of your athletic ability. Maybe you’ve never been very fit but your oncologist told you that you should begin an exercise program. For many, it’s taken years to get out of shape and it might take a while to get into better physical condition. Whatever your status, exercise can help.
Literally hundreds of articles show that a combination of good food choices and regular exercise can reduce one’s risk of recurrence and help relieve some of the symptoms of treatment. In addition, it can improve health by controlling weight, maintaining healthy bones and joints, minimizing the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, promoting well-being, and reducing the risk of death from heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults engage in moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes on five or more days of the week, or engage in vigorous-intensity physical activity for at least 20 minutes on three or more days of the week. To many of us, 20 to 30 minutes is overwhelming. It may be helpful to begin by noting your own definition of exercise. Depending on your level of fitness, exercise can include meeting a friend for coffee, going for a walk, dancing in your living room, scattering crumbs for the birds, riding a bike, or skipping in your yard. You might want to save all your strength for one major event, like going to the park to watch your grandchildren.
Before you begin an active exercise program, it’s wise to speak with your physician. For an assessment by a specialist in cancer fitness, contact the Cancer Fit Institute at 303-231-0943 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also phone Sandy Dickman at 303-409-2207 or send her an email at email@example.com
Begin slowly. If you are able to build up endurance without problems, increase the time you exercise by no more than 10% each week. In other words, if you walk for 15 minutes 3 times a week for a total of 45 minutes, don’t walk more than a total of 50 minutes the next week. Women who exercise beyond the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines do not rank higher on measures of cardiovascular fitness than women who follow their guidelines. More is not necessarily better.
Some fear exercising because they are afraid of developing lymphedema. Exercise is, in fact, an excellent way to assist lymph flow by activating muscle pumps in your extremities. Caution must be taken and exercise stopped temporarily and scaled back if heaviness, achiness, and fatigue in the affected limb during or after exercise is experienced. For more information, contact Oncology Rehab at http://www.oncologyrehab.net.
Feisty Fit Females is a free, monthly fitness group for women cancer survivors. For more information, visit http://www.feistyfitfemales.org. Get moving, feel better, and have fun!