My friend was just diagnosed with cancer.

She lives out of state – not near any place where Maple Tree has a hospital partnership.

She is terrified. She wants to do everything right, but has no idea where to begin.

Soon after her diagnosis, we had a long call. As best as I could, I tried to answer her questions about what to eat and how to exercise through everything. I tried to be honest about the side effects of the treatments she would be on, so she would know what to expect, and be equipped on how best to fight back.

She told me that her doctor hadn’t even mentioned exercise to her.

Is it any wonder that less than 5% of cancer patients exercise?!

So, if you are like my friend…If you are facing a cancer diagnosis and are worried about the side effects of treatment…If you don’t know where to begin with living a healthy lifestyle…..If your doctor has never told you about exercise……. This blog is for you!

You’ve heard me say it before. I can guarantee you that I won’t stop saying it until we get the other 95% of cancer patients moving.

Exercise is Medicine!!

Wherever you are, whatever your prognosis – exercise can help!

I get it – exercise is probably the last thing you want to do when you are feeling tired. You definitely don’t feel like doing it when you’re feeling sick. Let’s face it – exercise is a tough sell even on the good days. But just trust me on this….It really can help!

Where to begin:

When it comes to exercise, my motto is always that “Something is better than nothing”. If you are having a bad day, just do what you can. Even a 5-minute walk will boost your energy levels and help fight nausea, stress, and anxiety.

If you are having a day where you are feeling a little bit better, walk a little further! Current exercise guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of aerobic (i.e. walking) exercise each week. Walk at a pace where your heart rate is increased, but not so fast that you cannot carry on a conversation with someone.

Speaking of that…..If you have friends who are constantly asking you what they can do to help, ask them to walk with you! Nothing will help hold you accountable more than a walking buddy!

Beyond Walking….

Walking is a great place to start. However, a full body workout will only serve to further the benefits of exercise on your overall health and quality of life.

When you hear this, you might be tempted to run out and join your community fitness center. Especially if Maple Tree isn’t serving patients in your area (yet). If this is the case, please hear me out….Don’t trust your fitness to just anyone. It is sooooooo important that you find yourself a certified exercise oncology professional to work with!

Think about it. Cancer is a unique chronic disease that has a tremendous impact on every single aspect of your life. Your health status can vary greatly from one day to the next. Oftentimes, particularly while you are in active treatment, situations may arise that require an immediate adjustment of your exercise plan. Only a certified Exercise Oncology professional has the unique training and skill set to identify these conditions and make changes on the spot. This will reduce your risk of injury or complication.

An Exercise Oncology professional will continuously monitor your form to ensure you do not hurt yourself. They are also aware of special circumstances related to cancer – for instance, range of motion limitations due to surgery, treatment-related fatigue, and bone pain – and adjust your exercise plan accordingly.

A certified Exercise Oncology professional has the education to target your specific strengths and weaknesses in your workout plan, addressing flexibility, balance, strength and much more.

This is not a plug for Maple Tree, or our (ahem…nationally-recognized and accredited exercise oncology certification). There are other certification programs out there for fitness professionals to become apt in exercise oncology. That is why I challenge you to do your research and ask questions before joining a fitness center. Simply asking the question, “Do any of your trainers hold a certification in exercise oncology” will help raise awareness in fitness centers. If none of their trainers currently hold a certification, this will encourage them to make that change!

Finally, if you can’t find a Maple Tree in your area, or if none of the fitness centers in your community have exercise oncology certified fitness professionals, be sure to checkout our library of online programs, designed to get you moving and teach you how to eat healthy! They are all free for you (just use the coupon code “FREEFORALL”) and will help get you pointed in the right direction!