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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

Controlling a Controllable: Thriving Through Exercise & Movement

By Briana Rickertsen


Throughout my breast cancer treatment, I had a friend’s voice in my head encouraging me that said, “Control the controllables.” When you are diagnosed with cancer, it can feel not only overwhelming, but also like you have lost some control. Being able to take back a few bits to help control your day can be powerful. 


Exercise and movement are one of these tools. There are hundreds of studies to support exercise during treatment and beyond. New studies are being published monthly to support new findings on benefits. Exercise can improve quality of life, treatment outcomes, mental health, side effects (such as energy and nausea), recurrence risk, and mortality. 


Training for my first 10k post cancer.

While exercise may seem like another thing on your plate during a hectic and unpredictable time, there is no better time to start or keep active with movement and exercise than when you are diagnosed with cancer. Here are a few ideas to start and keep you moving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends building up to 150 minutes of moderate cardio and strength each week. Moderate means you should be able to talk during exercise, but you would not be able to sing while moving. I find it helpful to start small and build on gradually. A little exercise is better than none!


On days I’m having a hard time exercising, I find other ways to support my mind and body, including doing breathing exercises, stretching, restorative yoga, or meditation. Once I reach 150 minutes of exercise per week, I work to increase the intensity or the amount of time/number of workouts per week. Most of all, I keep it fun! I’m more likely to stick to something that I enjoy.


In 2023, I started an Instagram account called The Nifty 150. The goal of the account is to help provide support, education, and empowerment to cancer survivors and increase the number of survivors reaching exercise recommendations. When talking about survivors, I use the National Cancer Institute (NCI) definition of cancer survivors, which begins at the time of diagnosis. 


Exercise is a powerful tool, movement is an empowering action, and breathing is a gift. In the midst of everything we are experiencing as cancer survivors, I hope this provides encouragement for self-care.


I’m here to move with you, support you, and be your number 1 fan.



Hiking on Manitou Incline.





Read More:


Check out SBC’s upcoming events for free virtual movement programs!





On the Podcast: Breast Cancer Conversations

The Benefits of Pilates for Breast Cancer Recovery




 


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