Monday, August 13, 2012

Blah, blah, blah, exercise...

Cancer people are special. You can't just categorize us and tell us to get out and exercise. We need more than that. We need a bit of hand holding and direction. We have concerns about what we are capable of and may have new limitations that we are unsure about.

Several new studies (of course they were needed to keep researchers busy) were announced at ASCO earlier this summer. The conclusions were:
  • Clear benefits were shown in several studies of exercise during and after treatment help decrease side effects and reduce the risk of recurrence. 
  • Cancer patients need a bit more direction than 'just go exercise' they need help with what time of exercise to do -  whether newly starting or adding to an existing exercise regimen.
I took part in the Pink Program which was a collaboration between the local YMCA and funded by a grant. The Pink Program was a sixteen week exercise program which incorporated lots of stretching and gentle exercise. I felt the benefits quickly of more flexibility and it led me to join a real gym and go there regularly.

My feeling is that exercise is good and it relieves a lot of stress and prevents many diseases (this is from the person who spent most of yesterday on the living room couch). But after surgeries where I had lymphedema issues and my back started to go bad, getting started in a regular exercise program was harder than I thought. I have many limitations that prevent me from doing basic things - no treadmill, no twisting my back, no jumping up and down, and more.

But with guidance from trainers, I have learned what I can and can't do. It has been  a learning experience but for the first time in my life I have stomach and arm muscles.

So before more researchers get rich deciding what cancer people need for exercise, talk to your doctor about limitations and then find a trainer who can work with you to figure out what you can do.

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