Recharging and Renewing Through Movement
By Pat Battaglia, Associate Director of Communications
“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.”
Everyone has their own way to recharge their inner batteries – to do something that makes them feel good physically and, in turn, emotionally. For me, getting outdoors for a walk around the neighborhood helps hit that “reset” button. A hike in a beautiful, natural setting is even better, when I can make it happen. Walking helps lift my mood and clear my mind.
No matter what form of movement you prefer, there is abundant evidence to suggest that engaging in regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, strengthen bones and muscles, improve your ability to do everyday activities, and even reduce the risk of certain diseases.1
Research shows that for most, exercise is safe and beneficial before, during, and after cancer treatment. Physical activity can even help people cope with the side effects of their treatment.2 Citing a large number of systematic reviews, the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) has issued guidelines for health care professionals that state, in part, “Oncology providers should recommend aerobic and resistance exercise during active treatment…to mitigate side effects of cancer treatment.”2
How much activity is enough?
Ideally, adults should get 150-300 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity (such as walking, yoga, or mowing the lawn) or 75-150 minutes per week of vigorous activity (such as running, swimming, or singles tennis). Balancing different activity levels is fine. Those who are just beginning a physical movement program will still see benefits below these recommended levels and can gradually increase their activity levels.4 No matter which forms of movement we choose, every effort counts and will have positive effects on the mind and body.
Making movement a part of life
What gets you up and moving? Whether it’s the thought of going to the gym, taking a walk, hopping on your bicycle, hitting the golf course, a planting session in the garden, connecting with like-minded peers in yoga class, or any number of pursuits, you will reap the benefits. Taking an easy hike, swimming a few laps, a beginner tai chi session, and other low-impact activities share many of the same advantages as more intense workouts. Engaging in activities that help us feel stronger, raise our heart rate, and relieve stress is ultimately empowering.
My cancer diagnosis resulted in feelings of being curiously out of sync with my body. This may not be everyone’s experience; there is no right or wrong way to feel after learning you have cancer. Movement is my way of “coming home.” It’s one thing I can control. What motivates YOU?
This article appeared in the Coalition’s Summer 2023 newsletter, “Voices of the Ribbon.“