Walking Towards Better Health
After cancer treatment, taking control can
take on a variety of meanings including beginning
an exercise program.
Taking control can be one of the most important
aspects of your fight against cancer. Throughout
treatment, this can range from identifying a
family member or doctor to make health care decisions
on your behalf or to researching your disease
and various treatment options on your own. In
either case, what's important is that you
are making decisions to ensure that you will
receive the best possible care.
Striving to maintain good health does not end,
however, when you finish cancer treatment. On
the contrary, at this stage your care requires
a much more proactive approach – perhaps
more so than you have ever taken before in your
life. After cancer treatment, taking control
can take on a variety of meanings including beginning
an exercise program.
As a cancer patient, you may think that exercising
is too strenuous for you. In fact, exercise can
be an important way to regain the strength and
endurance that you may have lost during chemotherapy.
It is yet one more way that you can take control
of your life and your health.
How to Begin
First, identify an exercise that appeals to you.
Many cancer patients begin with a walking program
while others have chosen yoga, tai chi or swimming.
It's important to realize that if you
exercised before your cancer treatment, you
will not be able to begin at the same intensity
Similarly, if you are exercising
for the first time, recognize that you will
need to start slowly, increasing time and intensity
as you progress. For this reason, walking is
an ideal beginning exercise. You can do it
anywhere, any time and with no other investment
than a pair of good sneakers.
Begin by assessing your current level of fitness.
Think about how far or long you can walk before
you are tired. Cut this time or distance in half
to determine your starting point. Remember to
check with your physician before starting your
Developing Your Program
There are three phases to a good walking program.
The first is a 5-10 minute warm-up to gradually
increase your heart rate. Following the warm-up,
begin a period of intense walking (distance
and time determined by your fitness level).
Phase three is a cool down, generally lasting
between 5-10 minutes.Here you'll walk
at a slower pace to gradually decrease your
heart rate and help to avoid dizziness and
How fast you walk during phase two will depend
on your fitness level, age and medical history.
Ideally, you should walk at a sustained pace
for 20-30 minutes. If, however, you are just
beginning a walking program, you may want to
start with just 5-10 minutes of activity. It
is important to do what is right for you and
You should, of course, check with your doctor
before beginning any exercise routine. If during
the exercise you experience any of the following
symptoms, you should stop exercising and contact
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Chest pain or pressure
- Leg weakness
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath that prevents you from
walking and talking at the same time
You should also avoid exercising if you have
any of the following:
- A fever
- Hemoglobin is less than eight
- Platelets are below 20,000
- New leg pain or tenderness
- Feeling unsteady or awkward
- White count is below 4,000 (in this case
also avoid gyms,malls and walking outside)
Remember, exercising is just one of many steps
you can take toward increasing your activity
and improving your health.And, the benefits go
beyond your physical health. Exercise can often
help alleviate depression, reduce stress and
improve your overall psychological outlook. It's
an important part of your after cancer treatment
~ From Walking for Fitness, published
by University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center