It’s Time to Get Moving

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

After a brief exercise hiatus, I went back to my boot camp class this morning. It was tough. Not nearly as tough as I imagine chemo would be, but I felt as nauseated as I imagine some people feel on chemo.

I only took a few weeks off, but it’s amazing how the body reacts when I push myself physically. Mentally, I still think I’m 18. Physically, my body reminds me that I’m not. And that I need to get back to my routine.

The American Institute For Cancer Research (AICR) recommends getting active for at least thirty minutes every day. According to AICR, regular activity can help you:

  • Gain strength
  • Relieve stress
  • Boost self-esteem
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Sleep better
  • Feel more energetic

And better yet, regular activity can help manage weight and reduce your risk of cancer.

Where to begin?

  • Talk with your physician before starting any exercise program. If you haven’t been active in a while, get clearance from your physician first. You may even benefit from physical therapy first if you are still in recovery from cancer treatments.
  • Start slow. Once your physician gives you approval, start slow. Walking is a good first step that most people are able to do. Try walking outdoors for 10-15 minutes daily. If you are already able to do this, increase your speed, how far you walk, and/or the intensity (i.e. add hills) over time to continue to improve your level of fitness. And no matter how fit you are or become, carry a cell phone with you for emergencies.
  • Be realistic. If you’ve been on cancer treatment for 6-12 months, starting back may be very difficult. Talk with your healthcare team, an exercise physiologist, or a physical therapist about what is realistic. Pushing yourself too hard may lead to injury, which will only postpone your goals further.
  • Explore activities to find one you really enjoy. Walking bores me unless I’m on the beach or hiking to a destination with a scenic view, like Stone Mountain or Kennesaw Mountain. I love to run, play tennis, and do yoga. Challenge yourself to try new activities. You never know what may end up becoming a new passion.
  • Set a goal. Once you find something you enjoy, set a goal. If you enjoy walking or running, perhaps your goal is to finish a 5K like Race for the Cure that raises money for cancer research. Or walk 10,000 steps every day. Or play in an Atlanta adult tennis league to make new friends. Whatever your goal, make it one that motivates you to get off the couch. Every. Single. Day.

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