The benefits of exercise are widely reported. Whether your challenges are stresses of daily life, pregnancy, or chemo – medical literature supports exercise as one of the best things you can do for yourself.
The American Cancer Society explains, “exercise is not only safe during cancer treatment, but it can also improve physical functioning and many aspects of quality of life…exercise has been shown to improve fatigue, anxiety and self esteem. It also helps heart and blood vessel fitness, muscle strength, and body composition.” Pure Barre’s low impact, highly effective, and easily modifiable classes are a fantastic option for those going through cancer treatment. Some things to keep in mind when exercising during cancer treatment are:
- Always consult with your doctor first. Ask your doctor for guidance, particularly if your challenges are physical. Everyone’s case is different, especially with cancer. There are so many different types, sub-types, and stages – ensure your doctor agrees that it is recommended for you to remain active during your treatment.
- Tell your instructor about your limitations. Especially if you were a Pure Barre regular like me! If I went back to class without telling my instructors my new limitations, they would not have known which modifications to work with me on. Your teachers are phenomenal resource and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to modifications and making Pure Barre accessible to everyone. They are the best people to help you adjust class to your new energy levels, restrictions, and provide you with safe modifications – let them know about your challenges and they will help!
- Modify, modify, modify, and allow yourself to be a beginner again. I used to take class everyday and was incredibly proud of how much strength and muscle tone I’d gained from Pure Barre. At first I was incredibly disheartened and depressed by how much strength I lost throughout my diagnosis, time off for surgeries, and chemotherapy. Become comfortable with modifying exercises you may not have needed to modify before. Remember, any exercise is helpful while going through this process; you’ll still reap the benefits of exercise even if you don’t push yourself to the degree you used to.
- Do only what you can today. Be kind to yourself and free of judgment. Be aware of your body and your abilities, whatever that may be. Try to be present, gently dismissing thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow. Energy levels during treatment are different everyday. Be aware of how you are feeling while in class and ensure you take breaks and only push yourself as far as you can go that day. Accept today’s limitations and take care of yourself.
- Be careful when your white blood cell counts are low. Be careful of being in a public place or a group class when you’re experiencing neutropenia (low white blood cell counts) during your chemo cycle. Pure Barre studios are phenomenal at disinfecting workout gear and maintaining the cleanest workout environments, but don’t be afraid to explain your situation to your instructor grab some extra disinfecting wipes to wipe down your equipment and spot at the barre to be extra safe. If you aren’t approved to head to class in person by your doctor, consider using one of Pure Barre’s DVD’s at home.
I may not be able to do what I used to with the same intensity or frequency, but I still feel better every time I’m able to work out, even a little bit. If you can hold onto the barre, you can do Pure Barre!