Sticking to an exercise routine while helping a loved one through cancer treatment can be a challenge. That's especially true when you're spending a lot of time at the hospital or clinic.
But you don't have to train for a 5K or go to the gym to burn calories and enjoy the benefits of exercise. Many things you do while you're at MD Anderson count as exercise.
"Any time you're moving around counts," says Carol Harrison, senior exercise physiology technologist at MD Anderson.
How to achieve the benefits of exercise
Just 30 minutes of daily moderate physical activity can reduce your risk for cancer and other diseases. Exercise also can help lower stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression.
Fortunately, these 30 minutes don't have to be all at once. If you go for a 15-minute walk in the morning when you arrive at MD Anderson and then take 15 minutes to walk across the skybridge to have lunch at Waterfall Café, that adds up to 30 minutes of exercise.
Trying to lose weight? Make sure to increase the intensity of the tasks you're doing so that your heart beats a little faster and your breathing intensifies. If you're doing a moderate intensity activity like walking, you should be able to talk, but not sing.
"The more you energy you exert, the more you get back," Harrison says. "It really is all about moving more."
Ways to get extra exercise at MD Anderson
Here are some ways you can get more exercise while you're at MD Anderson.
- Take the stairs. Instead of taking an elevator, try the stairs or walk up the escalator.
- Walk across the skybridge. Rather than taking the cart, walk across the skybridge. It's about a quarter-mile long.
- Don't wait for the coffee cart. Sometimes walking to get a cup of coffee can provide you with a much-needed break from waiting for a loved one to finish an appointment. The extra exercise will help, too. You can get a free cup of coffee in our Hospitality Centers.
- Take your loved one for a wheel chair tour around MD Anderson. It can be hard to leave your loved ones to take a break for exercise. Go on a walk together to help lift everyone's spirits and get the exercise you need. On your walk, visit one of our gardens or the Observation Deck.
- Take a class. Our Integrative Medicine Center offers group yoga and meditation classes for both patients and caregivers in both the Main Building and the Mays Clinic. You also can get massages, take cooking classes and learn about cancer-related issues.
- Go for a walk with a friend. When friends ask how they can help, ask them to meet you for a walk or another type of exercise you can enjoy together.
- Walk across the Prairie. "Walking outside can be very energizing," Harrison says. When weather permits, walk across the paths outside Mays Clinic.
- Work your leg muscles. Use the benches outside or a sturdy chair inside and see how many times you can go from seated to standing in 30 seconds. Do this several times throughout your visit.
- Stretch. Find a shady spot outside and practice some stretches to help keep your muscles and joints healthy and prevent injury.