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Getting Back to Exercise

Posted 9/30/2016

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  Ok, I know that everyone is really sick of this subject, but I am bringing it up again. Study after study suggests that regular mild to moderate exercise not only helps us maintain (or maybe even lose, but don't count on it) weight and a general sense of well-being, but may also reduce the recurrence risk in several kinds of cancer.

  I have been thinking about this especially this week for a couple of reasons. First, I met with three women this week who have been struggling with weight and mood after cancer treatment. Two of the three had been regular exercisers before cancer, but had not yet returned to their routines. The third had never exercised in any regular way, but was aware that it would be a good idea to do so. In each case, we talked about the likely benefits, the many obstacles in their way to the gym, and the wisdom of figuring out a way to lace up those sneakers and get on with it.

  The second reason is that I have been less to the gym this month than usual. As all of us who commute into Boston know, the traffic is worse and worse, and the period right after Labor Day always seems to be harder than most other times. If I want to get to work at anything close to starting time, I have to allow more time for the drive, and I am just not willing to get up any earlier. 5:45 is hard enough! I have been getting to the gym 3-4 days/week instead of my usual 6-7. I realized last week that I have been feeling more tired and joint creaky than usual, and this was the only thing that had changed. That motivated me, and I have forced myself back to my usual habits. And PRESTO: I feel better. I'm convinced.

  Just do it.

  This is a very helpful article from CancerNet about this problem:

8 Steps to Starting Exercise After Cancer Treatment
 · Carol Michaels

When is a good time to start exercising after cancer treatment? Many doctors
now say as soon as possible.
How do you start exercising? Very carefully.
An exercise program can help reduce treatment side effects such as fatigue, neuropathy, decreased range of
motion, weakness, lymphedema, and depression. In addition, numerous studies have confirmed that exercise
can help reduce cancer risk. A study in the May 2016 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine found that increased physical activity is associated with a lower risk of 13 types of cancers. But before you add exercise to your recovery plan, follow these tips to stay safe and successful:
Talk with your doctor about treatment side effects. While you likely talked about potential side
effects before and during treatment, it’s important to have the conversation after treatment, too.
Knowing this information can help shape your exercise plan to your unique needs. For example, some
medications may make your joints or muscles sore. Others can affect your balance or increase
dehydration risk. If you had surgery, ask which muscles and lymph nodes were affected. If you’re at risk
for lymphedema, an abnormal buildup of fluid in soft tissue, it’s a good idea to meet with a lymphedema
therapist. The therapist can guide your exercise plan and monitor your body for the condition.


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