Let’s Talk Exercise!

Bellicon Trampoline
Bellicose Trampolines are some of the best because of their bungee construction. However, they have become quite pricey.

“Let’s talk exercise??  Are you nuts?  There are days I cannot even get out of bed and you think I should exercise?”  

Yep, I can hear you now.  I’ve no idea where you are in terms of exercise.  Maybe you’ve been quite active or not active at all but I will tell you that exercise is one of the best things you can do for your cancer journey.  

You Want Me To Move? Everyday?

There certainly will be days when you can barely move but move anyway.  It might be just some form of stretching or maybe walking but it is so important to move everyday.  Having said that, I am aware that there will be some days when moving really isn’t possible but hopefully those days are few and far between.  

The Importance of Moving

Why is moving so important?  Let’s start with some of the more obvious reasons.  Exercise brings blood to the body and its cells and with that blood, oxygen.  Since cancer does not like oxygen it would seem like staying oxygenated might be a really good thing.  Increased blood flow accomplishes another important thing.  It moves the waste products from your cells into the liver or kidneys for processing and removal from the body.  This is so very important for cancer patients.  If on chemo, you want to get that toxicity out of your body quickly.  And when killing off cancer cells you also want to remove them and their byproducts which are also toxic to the body.  Exercise helps with this by removing those things through the blood.  

Many of us have had lymph nodes removed through surgery.  The lymph system is part of the body’s waste disposal system.  When removing lymph nodes the immune system becomes somewhat compromised since there can be a backup of garbage that accumulates in the body.  Edema can show up in the legs or arms depending on which nodes are removed.  What is the best solution to this issue?  Yep, you guessed it – exercise!  

Exercise causes muscles to contract and relax.  As a result, lymph is pushed through the system.  This system has no pump like the circulatory system has in the heart and therefore must depend on movement.  One of the very best things you can do for lymphatic exercise is to jump on a trampoline.

Using a Rebounder AKA Trampoline

There is a particular kind of tramping that is called a health bounce.  This is not difficult and almost anyone can do it.  On the trampoline, holding on to a bar if needed for balance, one merely bounces up and down with their feet never leaving the mat.  It might seem like a little movement but it is more than enough to help move lymph through the body.  First, accomplishing the health bounce requires using the feet and lower leg muscles which will help move lymph as well as some of the accumulated fluids of edema.  Add to that the vertical movement of jumping and now you are really accelerating lymph drainage.  

When I first started tramping, I could only do a minute or two.  Very slowly I increased the time I could bounce.  While I can do more, I normally bounce about 10 minutes at a time.  I do it three different times of the day – when I first get up, before I shower which is right after breakfast, and about an hour before bed.  I purposely spread it out over the day so as to help my lymph system throughout the day rather than all at once.   I use and recommend a Bellicon Trampoline. I found it to be quite gentle on the joints which can be important when dealing with cancer and the various therapies.

But Listen To Your Body!

Exercise is a great anti-depressant, especially if you can do your exercise outside.  No doubt you have heard about the endorphin high, the runner’s high that comes from exercising.  While you might not be quite up to doing the kind of exercise or the amount required to get that endorphin rush, you most certainly will find yourself feeling better as long as you don’t look to go past your limits.  

That last sentence is quite important.  You MUST listen to your body and its needs.  Learning when to move is just as important as learning when not to move or when to slow down.  Listening is a form of love so by listening to your body you are actually giving yourself love.  But more importantly, you are not adding to the stress your body is already going through.  

Exercise and Chemo Brain

One more thing about exercise and its importance to the journey with cancer.  Chemo brain, as many of you know, is a real thing.  Yes, I’m here to tell you that exercise can help chemo brain.  It may not eradicate it completely but it will help.  

When I wake up in the morning I often feel like I’ve got all sorts of cobwebs in my head.  I cannot think straight and my memory is totally shot.  I exercise in the morning because I know that the increase flow of blood coursing through my body and brain in particular begins to clear some of that fogginess out.  I’m not going to tell you that chemo brain will be gone after you walk for 15 or 20 minutes but I will tell you that it most certainly helps.  

My Exercise Regimen

So what exercising do I do every day?  I’ve already told you about my time on the trampoline.  The only time I’ve not been on the trampoline was directly after the hysterectomy for obvious reasons.  Otherwise, every day, three times a day for 10 minutes.  I am quite diligent in this.  In addition, I walk on a treadmill for three miles every day.  Some days are slower than others since the exhaustion can be too great.  My goal is not speed but rather distance.  I do not care how long it takes me to get there, just that I eventually manage to get to three miles.  And some days I’m not going to make it to three.  No problem.  I just listen to my body.  But I do get on that treadmill every day.  

Sweat Daily

It is important also to do some sweating everyday if you can manage it.  Again, listen to your body.  Sweating is important as it helps to remove toxins from the body and takes some of the load off of your kidneys.  But be careful with this one.  Electrolytes are also lost through sweating and that can be an issue if you are on chemo.  If you do sweat a lot, be sure to consider adding electrolytes to your routine.  

Start Slow and LISTEN to Your Body

If you aren’t used to exercise, I encourage you to start slowly and work your way up.  Rather than doing one longer session, it might help to break it up throughout the day.  If you have been exercising regularly, continue what you are doing but add to your routine awareness of your body’s needs.  Modify your exercise schedule as needed.  

And finally, know that exercise will actually give you more energy.  Your heart will work more efficiently and your cells will be happier!  And we all want happy cells, right? 

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Disclaimer: the material on this website is for informational purposes only.  It does not constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your medical team, mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition.