I hope you are all doing well since our last post. This week’s theme is around the area of exercise and cancer (please note the aptly themed picture to your right!). Again this is a question that we often get asked by visitors here in ARC House, especially in relation to physical activity during cancer treatment. I will now hand you over to Shirley O’Shea Senior Health Promotion Officer with HSE South who has kindly written a post in relation to this area. As always please feel free to share any questions, comments, tips or stories with us below as we would love to hear from you…..
I have worked in the Health Promotion Department, HSE South since 1999. I am a Senior Health Promotion Officer, with responsibility for Physical Activity in Cork & Kerry. My role involves the promotion of physical activity across the lifespan in various settings such as schools, communities and workplaces.
Despite my active lifestyle in 2012 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, following treatment I am delighted to be able to resume all my activities as before my diagnosis. This also led me to get involved in the setting up of Corks first Dragon Boat team, which has encouraged those with Breast Cancer to take up paddling and do something really positive for their health and well being.
Exercise & Cancer:
Being physically active is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health whatever your age or ability…..but how many of you know what the national guidelines are for physical activity for health benefits, not fitness?
All adults need 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on 5 days of the week. Over half of the adult population do not achieve this recommended level of physical activity. The good thing to remember is all activity you do over the course of your day counts, walking to work, dancing, gardening, carrying groceries, you don’t have to find 30 minutes to go to workout in a gym when we all have the ‘green’ gym on our doorstep!
How does physical activity benefit health?
Being active benefits our physical, mental and social well being and is positively associated with reducing the risk of many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, stroke and lowers the risk some cancers.
In terms of our overall well being there is evidence of stronger bones, better sleep quality, manages our weight and reduces falls.
Physical Activity during Cancer Treatment
After a cancer diagnosis staying active may be the last thing you have energy for. Though some treatments and their side effects may limit your ability to partake in physical activity, research suggests that it can improve physical functioning and overall well being. If you are already physically active, you may find you cannot do as much as you are used to doing. People on chemotherapy and radiation treatment may need to exercise at a lower intensity for a time, and build up more slowly than people who are not getting cancer treatment. The main goal should be to stay as active as possible. For those who were inactive before diagnosis, low-intensity activities should be started and slowly increased.
During treatment you may find moderate physical activity can help to:
• Reduce fatigue, anxiety and nausea
• Improve your mood and self-esteem
• Improve your sleep.
Choose activity that you enjoy!
Gentle exercise that includes stretching such as yoga, Pilates, or tai chi
Find someone who can accompany you
Are there specific exercise programmes for those with a cancer diagnosis such as ARC Ramblers walking group or Cork Dragon Boat, this will give you the encouragement and support you may find you need at this time.
It’s important to remember that an active lifestyle is an important factor in reducing the risk of cancer and we all feel better when we get fresh air, get the body moving and take time out for ourselves!
More information on getting active