Health experts are advising people to stay home as much as they can to stay safe from the coronavirus pandemic and slow its spread. This is especially important for those at higher risk, including people with cancer. It means big changes in daily routines including how and where you get your exercise, and what and when you eat.
But we know that healthy habits can affect a person’s risk for cancer and other diseases including heart disease and diabetes. This is because getting enough physical activity and eating healthy foods can help our bodies work as well as possible. And there is growing evidence that cancer survivors who have these healthy habits have a better quality of life and might have better treatment outcomes. With a bit of creativity, you can find new ways to get plenty of physical activity and eat healthy food even while you’re staying home more.
Exercises you can do at home
The American Cancer Society recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. Moderate activities make you breathe as hard as you would during a brisk walk. Vigorous activities use your large muscle groups and make your heart beat faster, make you breathe faster and deeper, and make you sweat.
Even lower amounts are good for your health and are safe for most people. Besides helping to prevent some health problems, getting some physical activity can be helpful for your sleep, mood, and energy. It’s also important to limit sedentary behaviors such as sitting, lying down, watching television, or other kinds of screen time.
If you’re working or taking online classes from home:
- Stand up or walk around while you read and answer emails and other messages on your laptop or phone.
- During conference calls, stand up and pace, or stay seated and do leg lifts, knee lifts, and toe curls. Keep a weight under your desk for bicep curls. Do standing push-ups against a wall.
- Take a short walk during lunch, or in place of a coffee break.
- Set an alarm on your computer or phone to remind you to take an activity break. For example, take a one- or two-minute standing or walking break every hour.
Nurture your emotional health
Mental health is important too. Read more about ways for cancer patients and their families to cope with anxiety during the coronavirus outbreak. And remember the American Cancer Society is here for you. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 if you need help.