New Year, New Goals: A Prescription for Cancer Survivors

Ranked as one of the top New Year's Resolutions, every year, is the goal to "exercise more often". Exercising is always a good goal to have, especially if you actually put your goal into action! But did you know that research shows there are many benefits to exercising for those specifically with a cancer diagnosis? Some doctors even prescribe exercise as a way to improve quality of life and the long term outcomes for cancer survivors.

Exercise Can Prevent and Even Cure

"Exercise is the magic pill," says Michael R. Bracko, EdD, FACSM, chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine's Consumer Information Committee. "Exercise can literally cure diseases like some forms of heart disease. Exercise has been implicated in helping people prevent or recover from some forms of cancer. Exercise helps people with arthritis. Exercise helps people prevent and reverse depression."

Exercise for Cancer Survivors

For cancer survivors, who regularly exercise, the research shows the positive benefits of exercise including: reducing fatigue; an increase in energy and a positive shift in mood; improvement in heart and bone health; improvement in balance and flexibility; and the ultimate benefit...lowering your risk of cancer returning.

Be Creative, But Don't Overcomplicate

Exercise doesn't need to be complicated. You can start slow and be creative about your movement each day. Small changes in your daily routine are a great start and can make a difference. Some ideas to help you begin are:

  • Discuss your exercise plan with your health care provider, especially if you have any long-term medical conditions.
  • Make realistic goals by starting small. Try adding 10, 20, and 30 minute exercises, in some form, to your daily routine. Build momentum over time.
  • Choose things that you enjoy. If you are doing something that you enjoy it will be easier to stick with your plan.
  • Explore new ways to exercise. All movement counts. Dance, walk, climb stairs, swim, garden, bike, even household chores count. Choose activities that make you feel happy and confident.
  • Track your progress. Wear a pedometer. This is an easy way to measure your success and to add in more movement each day.
  • Stick with it, but ditch the "all-or-nothing" attitude. Be kind to your self. A little exercise is better than nothing. In fact, just adding modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your health.