In today’s fast paced world it is easy to make excuses, like not having the time, the money or the energy to work out consistently. Therefore, making the decision to exercise can often times be a difficult one. Priorities tend to shift and we might say, “I’ll start exercising tomorrow” or “I feel good today, so I don’t need to exercise.” We then postpone or sometimes even forget about the importance of exercising on a daily basis. The added stress of finding out that you have cancer and that you will need to undergo treatments that will fatigue not only your physical body, but your mental attitude as well, can make exercise even more of a challenge.
The body does not have to be overloaded with fast paced cardiovascular activity or with heavy strength training in order to produce positive health results. Low to moderate physical activity can be equally as effective at improving physiological and psychological function. Take a “time out” of your busy and stressful day to clear your mind, re-energize and re-organize your thoughts and feelings. Meditation, Yoga, and deep breathing techniques are great ways to calm and relax not only the body but also to calm the mind. Often times, your local cancer center may incorporate Yoga classes into their program, or they may suggest a method of meditation that works for you.
Yoga is a great way to release tension in the body in a calm and relaxed setting. Some Yoga instructors will use soothing music in a low light setting where you are able to mentally release in a comfortable atmosphere. Under the direction of your instructor, you will be able to find areas of discomfort and focus on the center of the body in helping release stress.
Breathing techniques are a great way to de-stress the body and can be performed on your own. Taking a deep cleansing breath in through the nose, followed by a slow exhale through the mouth will relax the stress build up throughout the head, neck and shoulders. Continue taking slow deep breaths that gently push the tension out of the body. With each exhale, feel your body “melting” into a more relaxed and calm state. This can be done at any time of the day when you are able to find a quiet spot and just a few moments.
The process of visualization can also be used for further relaxation of the body. Simply focus on a specific body part or muscle group while you are breathing and visualize this area, slowly releasing until you are completely relaxed. When you finish with one area, move down to a lower area of the body until you have relaxed every body part; for example start with your head and work your way down to your toes. This may take several attempts before you completely clear the mind, but don’t give up. When you find your mind wandering, start over again and re-focus. As you release the tension from each muscle you will find yourself in a more relaxed state and ready to continue on with your day.
On days where you are feeling well enough to get a good physical workout in, you may find it beneficial to exercise with a buddy. The right partner can provide encouragement and a positive attitude, especially when you lack the drive and energy to keep going. Be sure to find someone that you trust who has your best interest at heart. Motivation from the right person will keep you on a positive track, and they will be there when you reach a difficult obstacle and feel like giving up. Schedule your workouts with your partner and treat these appointments just as you would a scheduled visit with your Doctor. Remember physical activity is essential for the overall well being of your mental and physical health.
As with any exercise program, always follow the guidelines of your doctor before you start.