Refreshing Exercise

Kayaking, Nancy Brennan, Active Against Cancer
At its best, exercise is refreshing. It can make us feel more alive, calmer, happier and more energized. I recently took a quiet one-week vacation on a Maine lake, where the emphasis was on swimming and paddling a kayak. By the end of the seven active days, that magical re-set button had been hit: I felt more energetic than in months.
Finally, after a long recovery from a knee injury, I felt “like myself” again because I increased my fitness level.
Coming back from injury or cancer ordeal, you may find that you don’t organically feel like you have enough energy to exercise. If you are new to exercising regularly, you may not feel immediately energized by one or two workouts. Fatigue (mental and physical) is also common during arduous cancer treatment.
How can you get going with scheduled exercise if you are tired to get going at all?
The first part of the answer lies in managing your expectations. Exercise certainly can be energizing on a daily basis, most of the time, for most people. But if you are new to exercising intensely or you are in cancer treatment, you may have to adjust your expectations for a time.
It’s okay. Remind yourself that exercise contributes to your health in other valuable ways even if it doesn’t make you feel all charged up. For example, you are benefiting by enhanced immune system function or by increasing the likelihood that you won’t be dogged by fatigue in your post-chemo years. Take heart, and keep up your moderate exercise program, even in the face of mild fatigue. (More details are present in my book about when exercise might be contraindicated.)
Are you just needing to become more consistent about exercising daily? If so, you can choose what exercise to do, as you ease in to a routine that will keep you feeling refreshed. Some will find that a long walk will make their energy come back up. Some will find that being consistent every day and exercising on a schedule will help them feel refreshed.
Other people will find that one activity (swimming anyone?) that works for them even if they are tired. Choose activities that you can adjust easily. You’re not going to feel motivated to exercise if you disregard how you feel and bully yourself to do an overly taxing workout that you are not ready for. Keep looking until you find the answer that is right for you. (And read my book if you need more helpful tips.)
Exercise, ultimately, is a great way to refresh your energy–and help yourself become healthy. Take yourself out for a walk, swim or paddle as soon as you can. Enjoy!