Maybe you are experiencing fatigue or lack of energy before, during, or after cancer treatment, maybe you are feeling down on yourself, or maybe you just feel like you need to get moving - starting an exercise plan could be easer than you think. WhatNexter’s have all been there; they have had to determine what exercise plan would work for them. It may take a few tries. Here are some ideas from other WhatNexter’s on how you may be able to make exercise work for you.
Remember to consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine. It is important to know your limits and what they deem acceptable for your specific case. The advice below represents the personal opinions of WhatNexter’s.
Start with Some Movement
Some WhatNexter’s have felt that just making progress from resting and laying to movement or stretching has helped them begin exercising. Some say that their muscles have felt stiff after treatment or that they have experienced joint pain. Getting up and stretching or small movements may help.
“The best thing for me is to get up and move frequently.” -debbie1951
Walking can be the first step to beginning an exercise routine. Or, for some WhatNexter’s, walking is simply their entire plan! Which is okay. Everyone has different capabilities after treatment. There are many perks to just getting out and walking.
- You can enjoy nature. Walk to see the sunrise or sunset or to simply be outside.
- If you have no motivation to walk, walk your dog (great excuse to get a puppy!)
- Some WhatNexter’s use their walking time as a time to meditate and be alone with their thoughts.
- A good way to start walking is to invite a family member or friend. You get to spend quality time with one another while doing physical activity.
Join a Group at Your YMCA
WhatNexter’s say that it was hard for them to start exercising on their own but once they joined a gym or YMCA that it was a lot easier. Ticklingcancer gives advice to other WhatNexter’s,
“Do you have a YMCA? You might call and see if they have a Livestrong group. If so, you can join for FREE for 12 weeks. You work out with trainers and other cancer survivors. It's a great group. I joined my local group back in January.” -ticklingcancer
Yoga has become more popular, especially for people with cancer. The movements are gentle on the body and also help relieve stress. There are different levels of yoga, but WhatNexter’s say that restorative yoga has helped them get into exercise.
“Yoga has helped me a lot. I did yoga before diagnosis (but not during treatment as I just couldn't manage it). There are a lot of different kinds of yoga, so it's good to find a level that meets your needs and then take it slowly.” -Sofi
If you have not heard of Tai Chi, it is an old Chinese practice that helps exercise the mind and body through a series of gentle, flowing postures that form a kind of smooth and methodical dance.Tai Chi has helped WhatNexter’s, like yoga, with their mind and body connection and getting in the movement of exercise. One WhatNexter suggests Tai Chi,
“Tai Chi reduced my balance problems a great deal. Tai Chi added awareness as I moved and allowed me to be careful particularly when the walking pathway changes. I recommend going to an instructor first to learn the warm-up positions correctly then getting a CD to watch and use at home. There are many CDs out there; I would ask your instructor for one doing his/her style of Tai Chi.” -jhale17
Find a Combination that Works for You
Some people, when beginning an exercise routine try to jump in too fast with one type of exercise. Variety may help you get started. If you choose a few things to do once a week, it may be easier to maintain.You could choose to do a class once a week, stretch once a week, and walk a few times a week.
“I continue to exercises on a regular bases. I take Pilates once a week, walk as much as I can, and stretch. I try to manage my energy (easier said then done) and I try to focus on what I can do, not on what I cannot do.” -SueRae1
Every Bit Counts
Many WhatNexter’s have realized that just because they are not moving mountains does not mean that their exercise efforts don’t count. Tell yourself that every little bit counts because it does!
“Sometimes doing a flight of steps slowly, maybe a few arm curls and leg extensions just to keep limber can help a lot. Also some pelvic tilt and abs exercises to decrease back discomfort from being in bed works for me. These small things helped with my comfort and spirits.” -SpunkyS
The American Cancer Society suggests active substitutions for cancer patients that feel like they don’t have time for physical activity in their day. Here are a few suggestions:
- Take the stairs
- Walk or bike to a destination
- Take a 20-minute break at work to take a walk
- Go dancing with your partner or friends
- Plan vacations outside or that involve physical activity
- Join a sports or recreation team
These are just a few suggestions from WhatNexter’s on how to make exercise easier for you. Search the site for more unique ideas! Also, please share your secret tips on getting yourself into an exercise routine. What has worked or not worked for you?