For the fourth and final week of our January Healthy Challenge, we are suggesting committing to 7 days of movement.
As the days get shorter, the weather gets chillier, and our former routines remain restricted, it can feel increasingly difficult to find the motivation to exercise. Before the challenges of working from home and limited access to fitness facilities, sticking to a workout routine was already hard enough. However, with the added stress of navigating our lives through this new social climate and working to maintain financial stability, staying physically active is even more important now than it was previously.
The evidence supporting the benefits of exercise in physical and mental well-being is substantial. To put it simply, many studies have shown it can ease symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety. On the subject of cancer, it has shown to help prevent and reduce recurrence of several types of cancer, as well as aid in maintaining healthy energy levels, mood and sleep for those undergoing treatment.
This week we are recommending moving your body and exercising every day, for a minimum of 20 minutes, where you are elevating your heart rate and breathing.
Since exercising isn’t always easy, here are 5 tips on where to start:
- Start simple – If you aren’t currently active, don’t overwhelm yourself with an unrealistic goal, such as running 10 km. Aim small, like a brisk 20-minute walk daily, then build gradually on the time, or the intensity. You can make walking more intense by adding in some quicker, more intense bursts of speed to your usual pace. For example, walk your normal pace for 5 minutes, followed by walking faster for the next 5, and repeat.
- Find an accountability buddy – like a family/household member – to join you and hold you responsible for your movement goal.
- Prioritize it in your schedule – schedule in a block of time or set a daily reminder, and place as much importance on it as you would with a work deadline. Time to work out will not naturally present itself, you need to make the time for it.
- Remove obstacles – If your goal is to exercise first thing in the morning, get your gear ready the night before and place it next to your bed. Brainstorm your obstacles, anticipate and plan for them – this can make it much easier to get moving, and much harder to be distracted from your goals.
- Consider yoga – Yoga has been studied for a multitude of benefits for people with cancer and is appropriate for all fitness levels:
- Want some pandemic home movement ideas? If you don’t want to create your own home workout, consider downloading one of the many free (or inexpensive) apps. These provide guided, fun and varied workouts, any time, any place. Some of our favorites include:
Most importantly, during these 7 days, don’t beat yourself up if your effort varies. Some days, you may bring 100%, while other days may look more like 50% – that’s ok. The idea is to promote movement, whatever that may be and however that may look. Every little bit of movement counts!
Author: Nadine Kexel, CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre intern