How to Use Exercise to Fight Cancer Fatigue (Without Lifting Weights)

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The number one side effect cancer fighters battle?  FATIGUE.  UGH

It’s an awful side effect to cope with.  It lingers on long after treatment is complete.  It stops you from doing the things you love.  Missed coffee dates with friends.  Pass on a family birthday parties.  When I was going through treatment, I was so enthralled in my fatigue. I would get anxiety surrounding commitments solely because I was worried I would be too tired to make it through.

The one main thing that helped me overcome my fatigue and get back to living – exercise.  I know, it sounds counterintuitive.  Wont’ exercise make you more tired? Hear me out.  It actually will help in the long run.  Exercise has been found to decrease the recurrence of some types of cancer, reduce muscle and joint pain from treatment, and reduce the psychological stress of cancer (improve body image, decrease depression and anxiety).  This is why a lot of medical guidelines are now recommending exercise in people fighting cancer (click here). There are HUGE positive aspects of exercise but so many cancer fighters don’t know where to start or are scared to start.

Here’s a tip.  Start slow but start!  

If you are looking for an exercise to start with, there is one main movement we do everyday of our lives – the squat!  How do you sit on the toilet?  The couch? Get out of bed?  You do these movements every single day so it makes sense to strengthen your squat to make these everyday movements safer and easier to accomplish.

Now this doesn’t mean putting a barbell loaded with hundreds of pounds on your back.  You can adjust this movement based on where you are in your treatment or what you are physically capable of doing.  Let me show you how to transition the movement below (in order of difficulty). 

1)   Wall assisted squats


If you are unsure of your squat or not completely stable on your feet, this is the place to start. Using a wall, counter or table to stabilize yourself will make the movement easier to accomplish. Always start your squat by driving your hips back. Unsure of how to complete this movement? Think about the dirtiest toilet you’ve had no choice but to use. You need to hover back over the toliet but don’t want to actually touch the seat. Great way to think about a good squat position.

2)   Unassisted squats


An unassisted squat is simply using your own body but it for those who are a bit more comfortable with the movement or are more recovered post operation or post treatment. Place your hands and arms out in front of your body to provide some counter weight and help stabilize yourself.

3)   Weighted squats


A weighted squat is adding a bit more weight than just your own body. If you follow me on IG, you know I love to squat my dogs. One is 20 lbs and one is 35 lbs so they are a good amount of weight to add in. Squatting dogs (or infants) is difficult though because they are wiggly and move and this makes completing the movement more challenging. If you want to try a weighted squat, you could use a dumbbell, a bag of flour, or … let’s face it - your purse is probably pretty heavy and could add in some extra weight.

Whatever variation of the squat you want to try, focus on taking your time to properly complete the movement rather than rushing through. Quality over quantity.

Try 4 sets of 5 squats at a time (taking breaks between each set).  

Happy squatting! 

For More information on the Cancer Fatigue Fighter Program Click Below!