Exercise after Treatment
We all know that exercise is good for us. A recent blog discussed a study that suggests women who exercise are three times less likely to die from breast cancer. A number of other recent studies have indicated that cancer survivors, no matter what kind of cancer they had, are less likely to have recurrences if exercise is a regular part of their routines.
Knowing that we should exercise and actually getting out are two different things. Even in New England, spring is near, so the excuses about freezing weather and icy sidewalks no longer hold. I have run or gone to the gym regularly for years, but I rarely really enjoy it. The descriptions of "runner's high" always seemed mythical to me. Instead, I have exercised because I am stubborn, don't want to be fat, and appreciate that it is important for general good health. During my months of chemotherapy both in 1993 and in 2005, I went to the gym almost every day--doing less than my usual routine but enjoying the social connection.
Many women, I know, find it impossible to exercise regularly during treatment and find the idea of resuming a routine quite daunting. Based on many conversations with women facing this challenge, I have created this list of "The top ten days to get back to exercise after treatment". If you have other ideas, please share them.
Top 10 ways to ease back into an exercise plan after chemo
- Think about the recent studies that suggest regular mild or moderate exercise may reduce the recurrence rate of breast cancer.
- Start slowly and set reasonable goals. It will be counter-productive to try to do more than your body can manage.
- Find a yoga instructor who understands about recovery from cancer. Join an appropriate class that she offers.
- Make a pact with a friend to walk/go to the gym together. You are more likely to do it if someone is depending on you.
- Consider adopting a dog—and walk him.
- Find ways to exercise that are fun: roller-skating, softball, swimming.
- Remember that small changes can add up: park further from the store, walk up one or two flights of stairs instead of using an elevator, and carry your own groceries.
- Hire a personal trainer.
- Buy a new pair of sneakers.
- Play active outside games with your kids (or your neighbor's kids).
And one extra:
Reward yourself: buy a bouquet of flowers if you meet your week's goals.