Living a healthy lifestyle is important for all of us, but as a cancer survivor we stress physical wellness even more. My motto, “Move more and sit less.” It does not really matter what the moving more involves just move. Dance, walk, yard work, house chores, sports, swimming, lifting weights, juggling, hula hoop. It all counts as movement. Do what makes you happy and brings joy to your life. You are much more likely to continue do something that you like.
There are many benefits to physical activity that include:
- Lower the risk of cancer recurrence and/or other cancers
- Make you feel better
- Improve self-esteem
- Being less likely to have depression, anxiety, or fatigue
- Having more strength and endurance
- Being at a healthier weight
- Maintain bone strength
The American Cancer Society recommends 150-300 minutes of moderate-intense activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous activity per week. In addition, they also recommend 2 days of strength training per week. It is important to remember that short frequent sessions can be just as beneficial as longer occasional sessions. The ultimate goal is to have the sessions add up to the 150-300 minutes weekly. But remember start slow and build up. Listen to your body. If it is telling you to rest, then rest.
Where to Start?
Want to start exercising but don’t know where to start? Consider these steps:
- Talk to your doctor- make sure that an exercise program is safe for you and ask them what type of exercises they would recommend. Discuss side effects from the medications you are taking and how these may affect your ability to exercise.
- Set specific goals- Goals help us to have something to work towards. It is a good idea to set some short-term goals and a long-term goal. However, it is also important to remember these goals may change along the way.
- Exercise when your energy levels are high- Do you have the most energy in the mornings, afternoons, evenings? To be able to benefit from exercise it is important to do it when you have the energy for it. You know your body best and so make plans to exercise when you have the time and energy.
- Keep your routine flexible- Not feeling like lift weights today, well maybe try yoga instead. While consistency is important it is also a good idea to mix things up occasionally.
- Be patient- Everyone’s timeline is different. Don’t be in a hurry to run a marathon. Things will come in their own time.
- Choose to walk- Try to include walking in your exercise plan. Even if you just start with walking around the house. Increase this as you can. Find a walking buddy that can help keep you motivated.
- Get help- In general, an exercise routine should start with relaxation breathing, stretching, aerobic exercise and strength training, including balance exercises. Still not sure where to start? Our exercise specialist can help. He can help design a program that works for you. We also have group exercise classes available. If you would like to schedule an appointment for any of our services or would like further information, please call (319) 558-4876. You can also get more information by visiting our website at communitycancercenter.org
American Cancer Society (2020). Diet and Physical Activity. Available at Eat Healthy and Get Active (cancer.org) Last accessed September 17, 2021
American Society of Clinical Oncology (2019). Physical Activity Tips for Survivors. Available at Physical Activity Tips for Survivors | Cancer.Net Last Accessed September 17, 2021.