We get a lot of good advice, like take small steps, find what you enjoy, etc., but what works best for you? It may not be the same for all of us, so I am relaying my own personal story in the hope that you may want to first take a look at yourself and how you have accomplished other goals throughout your life before you take the leap.
I am an exercise physiologist. Exercise and activity have been a part of my life since I was a young child. Even so, there were many twists and turns along the road before I arrived at an activity level that was comfortable for me.
I started dance lessons at the age of 7 and continued through age 18. Following this, I danced professionally for three years. Not long after leaving dancing, I thought formal exercise would keep me active and fit. First, I tried exercising at home, but found it difficult to maintain a regular exercise program because I was placing too much emphasis on a rigid plan.
So I decided to take the pressure off myself and tried attending exercise classes. I found I enjoyed the classes and discovered that if I placed myself in an environment that was conducive to exercising, it was not like work anymore. Once I arrived at the class, exercising seemed natural and even fun, not like the struggle I experienced when exercising at home. I planned the days that I would go to a class, and if I missed one, I didn’t beat myself up because I knew that I would just go to another class on another day.
Exercise then became an enjoyable part of my life, as it will for you.
A good place to start is to look at yourself and your demands.
- Do you enjoy the outdoors?
- Are you more successful pursuing an endeavor yourself?
- Do you enjoy belonging to a group?
- Are there any particular activities that you enjoy?
- What is your time schedule like?
- Where and how can you fit in time for added activity?
- Can you find 10 minutes a day, 20 minutes a day or even two or three 10-minute bouts of activity?
- Can you be more active with your daily chores?
- And, of course, what are your priorities? If you are dealing with a health challenge, you may be realizing that exercise and activity have moved to a higher priority for you. You may also want to start with minimal activity, and then, as you begin to feel the benefits, the desire to continue will follow.
However you increase your activity level, it is important to remember that it is good for you. According to a recent statement by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), in answer to the age-old question of how much exercise is actually enough, the recommendation is AVOID INACTIVITY.
Activity offers many positive benefits to breast cancer patients/survivors, including:
- improved body image,
- improved aerobic fitness and strength,
- decreased fatigue,
- increased quality of life.
“Exercise proves to be a crucial part of recovery for cancer survivors, including those currently undergoing treatment,” according to ACSM.
Mary De Simone, MSHE, BBA, B.A., is an exercise physiologist at Baptist Health South Florida. She has an M.S. in health education, B.A. degrees in psychology and business administration, and is certified as a health fitness specialist by the American College of Sports Medicine. Mary has written on a wide variety of health and fitness topics for Baptist Health employees and several community programs. She gives presentations to senior high school students and provides wellness programs and instruction to physical education department heads at high schools as well as to local community residents. Mary has created fitness programs for teens, children and post-rehab adults for the Baptist Health Club, a community health club.
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As a part of our mission to make The Journey a powerful voice for everyone in our community, we invite each of you to consider joining the conversation and sharing your journey with comments and feedback. You don’t have to be a breast cancer survivor, you can be a caregiver, or a friend, or a concerned citizen. What we are looking for is meaningful and helpful conversations that will encourage other people as they travel along their journey. Sharing is caring and very cathartic. I sincerely urge you to take part.