You’re going through the craziest time in your life, so why put your body through more by working out? Well let me tell you, if you can physically do it, then do it!! Of course some may not be able to do anything too taxing on the body, but even one walk every day helps an immense amount. I was thankfully able to work out through my entire chemo treatment. Even on the days I really didn’t want to, I would force myself because I knew it would make me feel better. Before treatment started, I spoke with my friend’s mom who had undergone chemo for breast cancer and was in remission. She told me she walked 5 miles every single day during chemo and that made me realize that just because I’m about to go through this scary period of life, it doesn’t mean I can’t move my body or feel physically strong. I made it a point to exercise as often as I could and my amazing gym was nice enough to give me a free membership for the entire time - pull that cancer card where you can ;) I was so so thankful for that.
Start out light with short walks or yoga and see how you do. Below are the reasons that got my butt out of bed to put on leggings and go workout!
- The free endorphins! I know it’s cliche, but working out actually scientifically does release chemicals in the brain that make you happy and I wanted to get that wherever I could. It really did work, after exercising I always feel better no matter what type of workout it is.
- Gets you out of the house. There may not be too many reasons for you to get out of the house these days, but this 1 hour walk or yoga class will make you feel more normal for a bit and distract you from all the thoughts constantly running through your mind.
- Gets rid of the nausea. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because you’re sweating out the chemicals you just put into your body from the chemo, but I swear the second after my workout the nausea would completely go away until my next treatment. On the third day after chemo, when I had enough energy to get out of bed, is when I would make myself go to a class and the nausea would disappear.
- You feel (and look) like a badass…you’re working out during chemo. How much more of a badass could you be?!
- Builds community. You’ll find that people on walks, at the gym, and your friends and family, will fully support and be in awe of your strength. Your fellow gym goers will always check on you and some may even relate to you because a family member may be going through it too. I don’t know about you, but cancer geography is real…people come out of the woodwork being able to relate.
- When you push yourself during a workout, imagine you’re pushing the cancer cells out. It really helps! I would get tired way faster and couldn’t do much cardio, but when I did push myself I would literally imagine the cancer sweating out of my body. It kept me going whenever I really wanted to stop. I still imagine this during my workouts to this day.
You can do this and you’ll feel so great when you do! Of course, always check with your doctor, if your levels are low after treatment then avoid a gym and just go on a walk or do an outdoor workout.
You got this, it’s only temporary!
Maddy Pollack is a certified integrative health coach that founded Be Your Health and the Cancer Actually F*ing Sucks podcast. She is survivor of Hodgkins Lymphoma.