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Got Cancer? Get Moving by Julie Goodale

We often hear how we should be active and keep moving throughout cancer treatments. Studies show that exercise may help us feel better, reduce fatigue, boost our immune system and reduce our risk of recurrence for some cancers. However, during treatment, a daily workout can seem daunting. Figuring out how to begin and what’s an appropriate level of exercise can be difficult.

According to the U.S. Department of Health, adults should get 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week – that’s 30 minutes most days. If you have become inactive due to cancer, that might seem impossible. What’s often overlooked in the recommendations is that breaking the exercise into shorter segments still is effective.
Sometimes though, even ten minutes can be tough. Walking across the room or getting out of a chair may be a challenge. That’s fine. Do what you can. Today is just the starting point. Begin building your strength slowly. It simply takes getting started – and patience.
One of the best ways to begin exercising is to walk. Start at a moderate pace for you. You should be able to comfortably talk while walking and you should not be out of breath. If you can sing all of your favorite song, pick up the pace. Slow down if you’re gasping. Walk a comfortable distance, remembering you still have to get back home.
Over time you can increase either your walking pace, the duration of the walk or the number of days you walk. Increase only one element at a time. For instance, try increasing the length of time by 10%. Get comfortable with that and then walk a little faster. Remember, you still should be able to talk in short sentences.
Finding Time
Finding time to exercise often is a major barrier. We all lead busy lives. Add doctor visits and it can seem like there’s no time for exercise.
But exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym for an hour. Build exercise into your day. Take the stairs. Park farther from the store. Lift the milk carton a few times before putting it away. While at a traffic light, draw your navel in toward your spine and hold it for several seconds. You get the idea.
These may not seem like much, but they add up and you will have discovered a powerful tool to help you feel better as you fight this disease.
Julie Goodale is a Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM), and Cancer Exercise Specialist. She offers private training in the Hudson Valley and New York City areas and provides online fitness information and training specifically for the cancer community through She also leads fitness workshops and writes about fitness and cancer on her blog, She can be reached at 429-3302 or


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