Getting up and moving might sound daunting while in treatment, but it can lead to a big difference in how you feel both mentally and physically.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network found that moderate exercise not only uplifts your mood but also reduces fatigue, increases muscle strength, improves cardiovascular function and protects bones. Jump-start your active journey with the help of these four wellness programs centered on cancer warriors.
Tari Prinster was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 when both the world of yoga and the world of cancer looked very different. A longtime yogi, Prinster tried to find spaces that could apply yoga concepts to her diagnosis, but the search was fruitless.
“I looked around and noticed that nowhere in the yoga world was there anybody who knew anything about cancer,” Prinster recalls. “When I mentioned cancer, even to my guru yoga teachers, they kind of got wide-eyed and told me to go lie down, take it easy and not move. And that is exactly what I did not want to do.”
Feeling disappointed with the yoga world, Prinster began to study the benefits yoga could offer someone with cancer other than basic relaxation. Prinster found that yoga can improve your immune system, decrease constipation, increase range of motion and strengthen bone density.
After completing her treatment, Prinster received certification to teach yoga and launched a class at a studio in New York City. She contacted patient advocates at local hospitals who informed cancer warriors in talk therapy groups about her class. The clients started pouring in immediately. “They didn’t want to just sit and talk anymore,” Prinster says. “Like me, they wanted to do. And in a yoga class, we just do yoga.”
With the growing popularity, Prinster realized she needed more help. After establishing yoga4cancer, Prinster developed a certification program to train yoga teachers in the specific needs of cancer warriors. Just like there are categories of yoga for seniors or people who are pregnant, Prinster believes there needs to be a category of oncology yoga.
The American Cancer Society and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services now recommend 150–320 minutes of yoga per week to speed recovery or defend against cancer occurrence and recurrence. However, a warrior may feel intimidated or uneasy attending a yoga class with a teacher uninformed on the effects cancer and treatment can have on the body. This is where yoga4cancer, which constantly conducts research alongside healthcare professionals on the scientific benefits of oncology yoga, has you covered.
“We retrain [teachers] to use the language of cancer, to talk about the system, to talk about common side effects such as neuropathy and lymphedema and, in the end, to talk about cancer in a way that is reassuring to a student,” says Prinster. “And that assurance and authenticity is what will bring a cancer survivor back.”
Learn more about yoga4cancer and sign up for free classes at y4c.com.
Cancer Exercise App
If you’re looking for a variety of exercises to choose from, the Cancer Exercise App is for you. Completely customizable based on your cancer type, your level of fatigue and your treatment schedule and type, this app will create a guided exercise plan to keep you active no matter your fitness level. Whether you’re focused on strength and resistance or aerobic and endurance, a program will be formulated based on scientific guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine for cancer warriors.
Available on iOS, free.
For seasoned gym rats, classes through MyVictory might be for you. Becoming a member will grant you access to hundreds of live classes, unlimited on demand content and targeted and tracked fitness goals. There’s pilates, yoga, HIIT and cardio routines galore. MyVictory’s mission is to improve warriors’ quality of life while reducing risk for recurrence in a motivational setting online.
Visit myvictory.com for membership options and pricing.
MGH Cancer Center Videos
Apps or classes not really your thing? If you’re looking to get in a quick workout here and there, don’t hesitate to throw on a YouTube video from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center. Developed by MGH Cancer Center’s Lifestyle Medicine program, these free exercise videos range from 20 to 30 minutes for every level and ability with modifications shown along the way. In light, medium and hard intensity, there’s yoga, cardio dance and full body routines right at your fingertips.
Visit youtube.com/massgeneralcancer to browse free videos.
Taylor is currently the senior editor at Cancer Wellness Magazine. With a demonstrated background in the creative and health & wellness industries, they enjoy seeking out narratives of perseverance and empowerment to bring to the page in an engaging, thoughtful manner. Taylor is especially interested in writing about physical and mental wellbeing, the environment, social identity and pop culture.