Are you fit? Do you go to the gym and boxercise? Go for epic walks with your dog? There is a raft of new studies , and here's the guidelines, saying exercise can help people with cancer cope better and even decrease the chances of other cancers developing. With my break in treatment at the moment I'm embarking on a new regime of trying to get more active.
There are 34 stairs between the lounge and my bedroom. When I was really unwell these stairs felt like having to climb Kilimanjaro. It would take ages to achieve and I'd be completely breathless and fall on to my bed when I eventually made it. Even if I had no intention of leaving the house I would pack everything I needed for the day - meds, books and tablet in a bag and take it downstairs, so that I wouldn't have to climb those same damn stairs until I had to go to bed again. When I was really, really unwell I couldn't even do that, so just stayed in bed and eat tinned fruit with a spoon. Feeling so weak and out of breath all the time was a very hard thing to deal with both physically and emotionally, especially as I'd been so active in recent years.
The best decision I made when I returned to London in 2011 after living abroad was to get a bike. I went to a shop on Peckham High Street and found a Bianchi Hybrid going for a few hundred quid. I went everywhere on that bike. London opened up and cycling made the city fun again. I commuted to work (50+ miles a week) and then did rides on the weekend, including the famous Dunwich Dynamo overnight 120 miler to the Suffolk coast. So it was not only a big blow getting cancer but also losing all the strength and fitness I'd developed in the previous years.
I really miss doing even simple tasks like running for the bus or walking back from the store with groceries without feeling tired. So with the help of Warwickshire based charity Cyclists fighting Cancer I'm going to be starting a new exercise plan. I've membership to my local gym through Southwark Council's disability access program (shamefully under used last year). So I've somewhere safe to start exercise again.
I've also purchased a fitness tracker to help with logging my activity and hopefully motivate me to be more active. As well as counting steps and logging activities like cyling and running, it also tracks my sleep. As I'm having a bad spell of Insomnia at the moment, it's fascinating to see on a bar chart how much (or little sleep I'm getting) At the moment it's on Margaret Thatcher levels, which explains a lot!
I'll be trying a number of different activities over this month in what I'm rashly calling #FitFeb over on my Twitter page. The newly opened Maggie's centre at Barts does Tai chi and Yoga sessions, so I thought i'd give them a go. Also I've come across the One Hour Outside idea which aims to get people to spend more time outdoors everyday. For much of last year this would have been impossible for me so now I have the chance I'm going to give it a go. For instance later to day I'm going to walk for an hour to meet a friend for dinner, instead of jumping on the bus.
Any ideas (especially from fellow Cancer patients) on how to get more exercise most welcome. Drop me a tweet or email me [ michaeljormerod at gmail dot com ] I'll report back at the end of the month to let you know how I got on.
This week I've been....Watching The truth about Getting Fit.. Dr Michael Mosley on fitness tips and tricks.....Reading Walkaway by Cory Doctorow.. What happens in a near future world of non work?.... Listening to The Fall R.I.P MES.
Next week! Transport special The does and don't of getting to hospital, out and about and how one charity to trying to make it easier for cancer patients.