Physical activity helps your body keep muscle mass while fighting fatigue. Reducing stress through mindfulness activities like deep breathing, visualization, positive affirmations, and even daydreaming are also beneficial during times of stress and illness. Some common questions about including physical exercise and managing stress when coping with cancer are answered in this post.
I don’t like to exercise; what activities can I do?
If you’re like many people, the word exercise conjures up images of sweating away in a gym. But by definition, exercise is either a physical or mental activity done to improve one’s health. The most important thing to remember is to do something you enjoy. For example, if you love shopping, go for a walk in the mall before the stores open. Do you enjoy a dip in the pool? Walking in water is a great way to tone muscles without worrying about falling. Basically, if you enjoy an activity, you are more likely to do it.
What types of physical activities are considered safe during cancer treatment?
There are 3 principles to consider when determining what type of physical activity would be considered safe: intensity, frequency, and length of time spent doing the activity. For example, running 4 days a week for 1 hour is very different from walking 5 days a week for 20 minutes. Playing 18 holes of golf 3 days a week vs. 9 holes twice a week is another example of how to modify intensity and time. Talk with your healthcare provider about what types of activity you currently do and what, if any, changes are needed.
Meditation sounds complicated, what are some simple stress reducing strategies?
Stress reduction should not be stressful! Here are some simple stress reducing activities that can be done anytime, anyplace.
- Take 2 deep breaths (in through the nose and out through the nose) followed by 1 deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Breath normally while noticing what parts of your body move with the breath. This is a great technique to get out of the mind by focusing on the body.
- Use your imagination to take you to a favorite spot or daydream about redesigning your kitchen or going someplace exotic.
- Listen to music that inspires you.
Above all, remember that you can remain active and reduce the stress and fatigue associated with cancer or any other illness. Partner with your healthcare provider to find the right type of activity and how often and vigorous you can safely do the activity to help you live the healthiest life possible.