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As a general matter, exercise is beneficial for every disease, every disease state, and every age. It can even beneficial while undergoing a treatment. There is generally no downside to exercising so long as it is done safely. 

Exercise has many advantages. For example:

  • Exercise is empowering.
  • Exercise helps your body function at its best to help fight a health condition and/or prevent a recurrence. 
  • Exercise improves mood, energy levels and quality of life.
  • Exercise helps with such conditions as depression, anxiety, fatigue, nausea, pain, difficulty sleeping, and diarrhea
  • Dr. C. Everett Koop, the former Surgeon General, has argued that a lifestyle without exercise is equivalent to smoking a full pack of cigarettes every day.

In general, it is recommended:

  • That to maximize our body's functioning and disease fighting ability, all of us should get 150 minutes (2.5 hours) per week of moderate- intensity exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity or an equivalent combination. While the time can be broken up, it is recommended that it not be less than 10 minute segments. Aerobic, muscle training and flexibility exercises should be included. NOTE: Research shows that exercise does not offset the negative effects from sitting continuously, it is advisable to take constant breaks and get up and walk around.
  • If you haven't been exercising, start low and progress slowly. Pay attention to how you feel. Keep in mind that dong something is better than doing nothing.
  • You do not exercise when you feel extreme fatigue, or extreme anemia. 
  • Before beginning a new exercise program: 
    • Check with your primary care doctor and your specialist to be sure the exercise you are considering is safe and appropriate for your condition, medications and situation. Consult both doctors because your primary care doctor may not be aware of particular needs relating to your health condition. Your specialist may not be aware of needs relating to the rest of your body and/or circumstances.
    • Check with your doctor about your physical condition and how much you can and cannot do. Perhaps he or she will also have advice about exercises to consider as well as exercises to avoid.

Now is the time to start - even if you are confined in bed. (Yes, there are even exercises to do in bed). Exercise can be adapted if your health changes.

What exercise to do and how to do it is as individual as each of us are.  Exercise does not have to be running a marathon or lifting heavy weights. Exercise can be as mild as waving your arms, climbing stairs, or walking.  Exercise does not have to be costly. Free exercise and free exercise programs are available. The keys to regular exercise are:

  • Find exercises that are comfortable for you and that you can fit into your schedule.
  • Take baby steps, one at a time.
  • Gradually increase your energy expenditure rather than worrying about maximizing it
  • Exercise consistently. 
  • Keep in mind that exercise does not have to be done at once. For example, if you are going to exercise 30 minutes, you can do it in short increments of a few minutes each, three times a day.

Think about how to incorporate more exercise into your everyday life. For instance:

  • Instead of the escalator or elevator, take the stairs. If you live on the 8th floor and you're not up to that much exercise, get off on the 5th or 6th floor and walk up from there.
  • Get off one stop early when taking public transportation and walk to your destination.
  • Socialize while you exercise. For example, consider doubles tennis or joining an exercise class or group.
  • Walk a dog.

Do not get thrown by lapses, either because of your health condition, or an injury, or because you have to skip your routine for any other reason. Get back to exercise as soon as you can.

To stay motivated, consider the following tips that have worked for other people:

  • Only engage in exercises that you like to do. If you don't like the activity, little excuses become a reason not to exercise.
  • Keep a journal of your progress.
  • Work out with a buddy, or with a personal trainer. (If you use a trainer, keep in mind that anyone can call him or herself a personal trainer. Choose one with care. Preferably look for a person who is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine: offsite link).
  • If you have children, be a role model for making healthy choices. Encourage your whole family to get outside and get active – go for a hike or organize a family game.
  • Make exercise a game. For instance, consider the following apps:
    • Habitica: when you complete goals, you move to higher levels and unlock new features. You lose points when you miss a goal
    • Pact pays you money when you exercise, eat fruits and vegetables or log meals. If you fail, you pay. 
    • Stickk: you donate to a cause you dislike if you do not meet a goal

You can heighten the impact of exercise with good nutrition, rest, and developing your own methods of coping with stress.

For more information, see:

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