Cancer Education

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Jun 16, 2020

No gym? No equipment? No problem. Tips for staying active around the house.

By Megan Roessler M. Ed., @meganroessler

shutterstock_649981093Article contributed by Mayo Clinic Wellness Assessment Specialist, Sara Mansfield


Staying active is important for those living with and beyond cancer. However, getting the recommended amount of activity can be a challenge in these uncertain times. The landscape of group exercise and fitness centers will certainly change as a result of new considerations in personal safety.

How can we re-think our approach to movement? One answer lies in being fully present in everyday tasks.  Connecting with the ability of your body to carry you through your day will open up a world of wellness. Let’s start by getting creative with opportunities around the house. Below are some ideas to do just that.


countCaptureCounter Push Ups – Any time you are near a sturdy waist-high surface with time to kill, try some push-ups. Waiting for water to boil, the toaster to pop up or even the water to get hot for a shower; these are all opportunities for movement.





Step Ups – Hold on to the stair rail and pause on each step. Lower your heel off the edge of the step then rise up on your toes for a full challenge for the calves.




ladyCaptureRising from the Floor -  No matter your fitness level, getting up from the floor is an important skill to have.  Incorporate this movement as a practice to help find the best, most safe way for you. Make sure you have something stable to hold on to for support if needed.


catcowCaptureRocking and Rolling – These movements will help loosen your back and hips. Gently lean back into your hips as you press into your hands, then come forward and round your back.


doorwayCaptureDoorway Stretches – Being mindful when passing through any doorway in your house opens up an opportunity to counter act some of the forward postures that appear with too much slouching and screen time.  Anchor your hands (both or just one at a time) on any part of the door frame and gently step through the door.  You will feel an opening in your chest and shoulder.



bendoverCaptureTake a Bow – Stretch your back and arms by anchoring your hands on a counter or back of a sturdy chair. Slowly walk backwards away from your hands until you feel slight tension in your shoulders and/or lower back.





Chair Squats - Any time you get up from a chair, try to use your leg strength to elevate from below rather than rely on arm rests or swinging momentum.








One Foot Stands – There are so many opportunities to challenge balance. Stand tall on 1 leg with support, relying on your balance and leg strength. You can experiment with how much you rely on your support by holding on with a full grip, light grip or just a few fingertips. Every countertop presents this opportunity.





Vacuum “Lunges” - Don’t get in a rush. Pushing a vacuum too quickly can put uneven pressure on the muscles of the back and hips. Move slowly and lean into each push with your legs rather than bending at the waist.






wallangelCaptureWall Angels – Prolonged sitting can result in a forward, rounded posture.  Look at a blank wall as a way to counteract this forward posture. Stand with your back against the wall and try to make a “snow angel” imprint on the wall by sliding your outstretched arms along the wall by your sides.




neckCaptureNeck Retractors - Interrupt screen time periodically with a neck strengthener. Stand up against a wall, keep your chin even with the floor and slowly pull the back of your neck (base of your skull) towards the wall. This can be done in a chair as well.





Your most important tool is your breath. Breathing is the key to giving you more energy to complete the movements.

As you stretch, breathe evenly and never stretch to or past the point of pain. Only stretch to the point of minimal tension.

During times of tension, avoid holding your breath. This can create unwanted internal pressure and lightheadedness.

All of these practices develop a movement mindset. By widening your view of what movement is, you find that many things we do daily count as activity such as laundry, cleaning, dressing and yard work.

There is great value in being mindfully present in everything you do. What tips do you have to share for staying present and working movement into your day?



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