First, let’s get the excuses out of the way. When it came to exercise, I had these plus a few more readily available, especially at busy times of year (like right now!):
- I’m too tired.
- I’m too old.
- My knees hurt.
- I don’t have time.
- I don’t have the right clothes.
- It’s too cold/wet/hot/humid outside.
- I don’t know how.
- It’s boring
- I don’t like it.
- I’m not coordinated enough.
- I don’t like sweating.
- I’m hungry, gotta go home and make dinner.
- The fridge is empty, gotta go grocery shopping.
These are just a start… I’ve got plenty more to rattle off.
All of these excuses were real obstacles but still pretty flimsy. And they were surprisingly easy to overcome once I found Zumba — the only exercise plan that I’m able to stick with. It’s fun and social, convenient and not fancy (everyone comes in their old sweats), and it’s reasonably priced. I no longer allow myself to slip in an excuse. I just go. Now I look forward to Zumba class three times a week. When I’m done I’m glowing and sweaty and feel like a million bucks. The reality is, after a breast cancer diagnosis, exercise is mandatory; it’s no longer optional.
Research has shown that exercise can help:
- keep your body fat at a healthy percentage
- keep your weight at a healthy level
- lower your risk of many diseases, including breast cancer
- reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back if you’ve been diagnosed
- keep your bones strong and ward off osteoporosis
- improve your mood
- improve sleep quality
So how do you get started if you’re a lifelong couch potato who doesn’t know the difference between a barbell and the Liberty Bell? The key is to start slowly. Try walking for 15 minutes every day and then gradually up the amount of time you walk as well as how fast you walk. If you walk with a friend you can socialize and exercise. The best!
If you want to step it up a notch but aren’t sure how, you may want to visit a gym or make an appointment with a personal trainer to learn about different types of exercise. Does your town have a recreation league? That’s a great way to learn how to play soccer, softball, basketball, or learn how to swing dance or salsa. Some people like to exercise in their homes with videos on demand or DVDs. Other people prefer gardening or fixing up their homes. A bike ride or walk with the dog in the evening can be a relaxing way to wind down after a long day.
If you’ve had lymph node removal surgery, talk to your doctor about your risk of developing lymphedema and what activities could raise your risk. For information on exercising if you are at risk of developing lymphedema, check out the Breastcancer.org blog columns by Cathy Bryan, a certified cancer and exercise trainer.
There are so many options, there’s got to be something for you. Don’t be afraid to try any type of exercise that sounds interesting. I went through aerobics, running, elliptical machines, Pilates, yoga, walking, and biking before I found Zumba.
The bottom line is that you need to move every day. So get out there and do it!
I’m excited to share with you that Breastcancer.org will be launching our new exercise section in early 2012! [Editor's Note: The Exercise section is live!] So let’s talk — what’s your favorite type of exercise, and what’s the motivation that keeps you moving?