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Expert Guidance from Cancer Coach

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How To Be More Physically Active?

Research shows that exercise is safe and helpful for most people before, during, and after cancer treatment. It can help improve your quality of life and energy to do the things you like. Physical activity may also help you cope with the side effects of treatment and possibly decrease your risk of new cancers in the future.

Too much time spent resting, or sitting can cause loss of body function, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion. Many cancer care teams are urging their patients to be as physically active as possible before, during and after cancer treatment.

Here are some tips to make you more physically active:

Pick an activity you enjoy

Create a list of activities you would like to do, such as walking, aerobics, tennis, wheelchair basketball, or taking a fitness or community center class, and to increase your activity level, add an activity that you enjoy doing. You are more likely to stay active if you choose activities you enjoy. 

Start slowly and add a little at a time

The idea of being active at least 150 minutes per week may seem like too much at first. Start by moving for 10 minutes a day. Add 5 to 10 minutes every few weeks until you are active at least 30 minutes most days.

Set a goal, add it to your calendar, and do it

Setting goals and having a plan to realize them may help you stick with a physical activity routine. Also, set specific short-term goals that you can track. Look at your calendar, phone, or computer to determine the best days and times and commit to those plans in writing. Also, set your phone to send reminders to help you stay on track.

List the activities you like 

List the activities you like. It may include swimming, bowling, biking. It will give you a good reward in terms of better heart health, reduced stress, etc. At work, carve out 10 minutes to walk during lunch. If you have children, ask your family, friends or neighbors to pitch in to watch the kids while you take that dance class you’ve always wanted to sign up for.

Involve family and friends in your physical activity program

Involve your family and friends in your physical activity program. You’ll gain support and companionship. Having a friend or family member join your fitness routine makes it more fun and competitive, it also helps ensure you are more regular in your fitness routine as the other person acts as a default monitor to your irregularity. If you enjoy group activities, look for online groups that meet for yoga, meditation, or other forms of fitness at fixed times in the week. 

Keep exercise easy and fun

How much you should exercise is different for each person. We don’t know the best level of exercise for someone with cancer. The goal is to have your exercise program help you keep up your muscle strength and keep you able to do the things you want and need to do. The more active you are, the better you’ll be able to exercise and function. But even if planned exercise stops, it’s good to keep being active by doing your normal activities as much as possible. The key to staying active is to keep your exercise program simple and fun. Exercise and relaxation techniques are great ways to relieve stress. Reducing stress is an essential part of getting well and staying well.

Try more than one kind of exercise

Try to include physical activity that uses large muscle groups such as your thighs, abdomen (belly), chest, and back. Strength, stretching, and aerobic fitness are essential to a good exercise program.

Try to include some exercises that will help you keep lean muscle mass and bone strength, like exercising with a resistance band or light weights. You might want to include exercises that will increase your flexibility and keep the range of motion in your joints.

Always start with warm-up exercises for 2 to 3 minutes. Examples of warm-up exercises are shoulder shrugs, lifting arms overhead, toe-tapping, marching, and knee lifts.

End your exercise session with stretching or flexibility exercises. Hold a stretch for about 15 to 30 seconds and relax. Examples of stretching are reaching overhead, deep breathing, and bending over to touch your toes so that you relax all the muscle groups.

Add physical activity to your daily routine

There are ways to add physical activity to your daily activities. Remember, only do what you feel up to doing. Go for a walk after dinner, ride your bike, clean your kitchen and bathroom. Washing cars can be a good exercise for you.  Play active games with kids, like freeze tag, jump rope, and other games you played when you were a kid. Park your car in the farthest parking space at work and walk to the building. Use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. 

Expert Guidance from Cancer Coach

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