It is clear. The same things that reduce health risks in the general population reduce the risk of recurrence as well as the chance of developing a second new cancer for survivors. The evidence is based on over 100 studies released between 2006 and 20121. Sounds good, yes? Yet, survivors are no more likely to adopt a healthier lifestyle than the general population even though we are at greater risk. As a survivor, I find this concerning. As a Certified Wellness Coach and Pilates trainer, I want to help.
We can control the environment we create in our body. We do not control our genes or other factors that cause the cellular mutations that lead to cancer. Yet, maintaining a healthy internal environment reduces our chance of “turning on” the processes we can’t control and may lead to cancer.
So what are those things that will reduce risk in all populations? The key recommendations from the 2012 Guidelines include:
- Get regular aerobic and resistance exercise;
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, low in red meat and saturated fats,
- Use other weight-management strategies, such as portion control, to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
This is not new, nor is it sexy or easy. But aren’t the best things in life worth a bit of effort? Aren’t you worth the investment?
When we were an agrarian society, the average person could burn up 2,000 calories during the work day. It was physically, demanding work. We were built for it. There were no gyms, just hard work. Pilates, an exercise methodology, that strengthens the deep internal abdominal muscles that support our posture, was unnecessary. Aerobic conditioning was chasing the chickens or the horses that got loose. And we could eat more of the real food that was produced, not processed.
Today an average worker sitting behind a computer or a steering wheel only uses about 700 calories per work day. This sedentary lifestyle has created a new disease called “sitting disease” resulting from muscular inactivity, not lack of exercise. This lack of muscular activity can result in weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some cancers and musculoskeletal problems.
So here is the bottom line: MOVE! Move as soon as you can, in any way you can, as often as you can. Listen to your body. It will tell you when you have done enough and when you need more. Walking is a great place to start moving. Start small – around the living room is perfect until you build strength and stamina. Add some speed to your walk, or squats and keep on building from there.
Movement teaches the brain that we have control which is both empowering and liberating. Moving becomes its own reward. Cancer makes us so aware of our limitations. Exercise and movement gives us some control and confidence back. What would it mean to you to feel better and recover quicker? It is never too late. How are you going to take your next step?
By Lauryn Sires