Walk Your Way to Wellness
With warmer temperatures in the air, it’s the perfect time to head outside for a walk. Join us for our group walk on May 19 or set out on your own for a stroll around the neighborhood. The fresh air and sunshine will do wonders for your spirits. And your body will thank you for the gentle aerobic exercise inherent in putting one foot in front of the other.
Walking is especially important if you’re undergoing cancer treatment or have just completed a course of treatment. It allows you to start slowly and proceed at your own pace. You can walk almost anywhere, from your backyard to a neighborhood park. Just 15 minutes a day can improve your energy and well-being.
Tips for Cancer Survivors
If you’re dealing with cancer, there are things you should know before getting started. Here are some tips for pacing and protecting yourself.
Take Baby Steps
Start simply and slowly. You may want to start in your home, first on one level, then adding stairs if you have them. Once outside, practice on a level surface before trying out areas with slopes or hills. Depending on how you feel, start with 10 minutes three times a week and add a minute or two each week. Or, count your steps and increase them gradually over time. Wear a pedometer or use a phone app to track your progress.
Follow the Buddy System
Walking is always better with a buddy. It’s more fun, and it’s safer than walking alone. Plus, it keeps you accountable. Find a friend whose company you enjoy. You might even join a walking group to sustain your exercise program during the winter months. Those mall walkers stick together for a reason!
Think ahead to what you’ll need for your walk, especially in hot weather. Make sure you consider the following:
Clothing – Choose breathable fabrics and wear layers you can add or subtract.
Footwear – Wear supportive shoes that are correctly sized and protect your feet. Sandals and flip-flops aren’t a safe alternative, no matter the temperature.
Hat and sunglasses – Safeguard yourself from the sun’s rays with a protective head covering and UV sunglasses.
Sunscreen and insect repellent – While both provide important protection, not all are created equal. Check with your healthcare team to see which products they recommend.
Water – Stay hydrated at all times. Consider a small travel backpack with a water bottle holder to free up your arms while you walk. To maintain your energy, eat a healthy snack before setting out.
Listen to Your Body
Your body will tell you if you’re overdoing it. Pay attention to its signals. If you’re feeling tired or shaky, take a rest or turn around. Take your phone in case you need to call it quits. It’s far better to stop while you’re ahead than to push yourself to the point of exhaustion.
Advice for Caregivers
If you’re caring from someone with cancer, don’t neglect your own needs. Your wellness is important, too, and your loved one needs you to be healthy. Walking can help you maintain energy, release stress and avoid burnout. It can also provide a much-needed break, giving you time to clear your head and reclaim yourself. You can’t pour from an empty pitcher, so head out into the sunshine and fill yourself up.