Making Changes One Step at a Time

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By: Dr. Maya Obadia Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow, ELLICSR: Health, Wellness & Cancer Survivorship Centre

Image of a woman running on a treadmill

Following treatment for Breast Cancer, women are faced with many physical and psychological changes such as fatigue, pain and mood changes. Participation in regular exercise has been shown to improve these. It is for all of these reasons that exercise is recommended for all Breast Cancer survivors. Despite the fact that physical activity appears to enhance the recovery process and maintenance of health and well-being, as well as reducing the risk of recurrence, most women are still inactive.

Making the changes needed to start exercising can be overwhelming for everyone, but if taken it step by step it can be achieved. Starting to exercise is a process that begins with thinking about being active. Regardless of where you are in your thinking, you can always begin with goal setting to help get you moving towards being active. Here are some goal setting tips that may help.

Make goals realistic and specific

Choose to make goals realistic to fit your lifestyle. Try focusing on breaking that goal into smaller steps. Not only will it prevent any potential injury or pain but will also help with feeling a sense of accomplishment towards the goal. For example: “Walk 10 minutes after breakfast and 10 minutes before dinner” rather than “Get 20 minutes of exercise”.

Keep an activity diary

Whether you are thinking about starting to exercise or have already taken the first steps in doing so, keeping a diary can help. A diary can be a place where you write your thoughts about being active. This helps to be mindful as well is a good place to track your activity.

Image of a man and woman swimming

You are unique and so should be your exercise plan

Try to take some time to think about what type of activity you would enjoy. If it’s fun you are more likely to keep at it. Exercise can be walking, dancing, swimming or really anything that gets you moving. It can be done anywhere with anyone.

Know when to ask for help

If you are unsure if an activity option is right for you or how much exercise you can tolerate make sure you ask a professional for help. Speak to your healthcare team to ensure that your activity is safe and will be well tolerated.

At ELLICSR you can be referred into the Cancer Exercise and Wellness program (We-Can) as well as participate in a pilot study looking at how use of health app and health coaching can help Breast Cancer survivors become active and maintain it long-term.

For more information contact ELLICSR Reception at 416-581-8620.