There has been a lot of talk recently about how exercising and eating right are important for cancer survivors, as well as cancer patients who are currently going through treatment. While there are many ways to make eating right entertaining (fun recipes, new restaurants), the idea of exercise can be less than enticing to some.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean a 10-mile monotonous run or file miles back and forth in a lap pool. In fact, there are many ways to sneak in exercise, without even realizing that you are being active. The main goal is to get your heart rate going while getting your body moving. Working up a sweat is helpful, but not required.
Here are some fun ways to exercise, without actually exercising, that can work for cancer patients, survivors and anyone else:
1. Take a walk – Grab a friend, pet or both and take a long stroll on a nice day. No need to speed walk, especially if you’re able to walk for a longer period of time. If you’re worried about feeling fatigued, drive to a nearby park and stroll around for a change of scenery with the safety of your car nearby. Always be sure to bring a phone and ID with you, especially if you are planning to go a long distance on your own.
2. Take the stairs – Avoid elevators and escalators and take the stairs as often as possible, but be reasonable, of course. An appointment on the 30th floor warrants an elevator, while the 3rd floor can be reached by stairs.
3. Go shopping – Shopping is a great way to distract yourself while exercising. If you’re not in the market to buy anything right now, simply go window shopping and leave your credit cards at home. The mall is also a great spot for people watching, and an indoor option for rainy days.
4. Go dancing – Dancing is an excellent way to get your heart rate up while having a great time. Whether you’re line dancing, doing the fox trot or grooving to the latest tunes, you’ll forget that you’re getting exercise. If you don’t know how to dance, taking lessons is another way to get a great workout.
5. Play a video game – Not all video games fit into this category, but can count as exercise if you're playing games that make you sweat, such as Wii Fit, Dance Dance Revolution, EA Sports Active or Wii Sports Resort. This is a fun way to get moving on your own or with friends, without ever leaving your house.
6. Try a group sport – Even if sports aren’t your thing, it’s never too late to try something new. Unlike solo sports - running, swimming and biking - a group activity like softball or basketball will help motivate you to keep it up. Also, it can be a great social activity. Pick whichever sport you enjoy the most, taking note of whether it matches the level of activity that makes you feel comfortable.
7. Take a group fitness class – Many gyms offer group fitness classes throughout the day. You can try Zumba, pilates, yoga, kickboxing or anything else that is offered as a part of your membership. Find the workout method that you enjoy most and the teacher that makes you want to return for more.
8. Go rollerblading – Skates and rollerblades may not be as hip as they once were, but going for a “roll” is still a fun way to be active. You can bring a friend along for the ride, wear headphones or just enjoy your thoughts on a nice day.
The suggestions above are just the beginning! Exercise doesn’t have to be boring and tedious, as there are many ways to stay active while having a good time.
With any of the activities above, just be sure that you don’t push yourself too hard too soon. While exercise is important to the health of cancer survivors, always make sure that your body is ready for certain levels of activity before you get started.
If you’re concerned about starting a new activity, check with your doctor first. Otherwise, get out there and get moving!