Woman and Workouts

Regular workouts help women like breast cancer survivor Karen Hornbostel endure the painful effects of treatment. 


 When cancer treatments left Karen H. of Littleton, Colorado, with a paralyzed left shoulder for eight months, she felt she had to motivate herself. “As my shoulder began to function again,” she says. I knew I had to do something extra to get it back to 100%.” She opted to swim and decided to train for a triathlon. It worked. Hornbostel, right, has participated in Denver’s Danskin triathlon since 1999 with Team Survivor, a group of women who have survived cancer:

   At least 1 million American women who have had breast cancer are alive today, but 190,000 more are diagnosed with the disease each year: And the harsh reality is that during any kind of cancer treatment women can suffer fatigue, nausea, anxiety and other debilitating symptoms. Yet women like H. find that, as draining as cancer therapy is, exercise can improve both their physical and psychological well - being.

  In the past few years, cancer - & - exercise programs have been sprouting up at health clubs and hospital wellness centers. One such facility is Cancer Wellness in Santa Barbara, California, whose director, Eric P. Durak, says: “ Exercise and cancer represents one of the most exciting areas of sports medicine. New research from Oregon Health and Science University shows that women who exercise as little as 10 minutes every other day feel less tired and do better on physical tests than non – exercisers. Additionally, women who exercise more intensely keep a higher sustainable energy level than those who have no exercise routine.”

Exercise Tips for women undergoing cancer treatments

'        Select activities that are comfortable, accessible and enjoyable, including cardiovascular, strengthening or flexibility exercises and a course of relaxation or meditation at each session. Try a variety of exercises, and then choose those that help to maintain or increase your energy during treatment.


Cardiovascular activity can boost your spirit, decrease fatigue, help your immune system and speed your recovery. Walking is a simple way to start. Begin with 5 – 10 minutes, once or twice every day. Gradually increase at a comfortable pace so you can walk daily, up to 30 – 60 minutes. But if 10 – 15 minutes is what feels most comfortable, stay at that level. 


'        On days you feel good, exercise a little longer: on days you feel tired, work out a little less or select an easier activity, such as stretching or a gentle movement program.






'       Check to see if there are exercise programs supporting cancer survivors in your community, or find an exercise partner who will help keep you motivated. (Find 52 reasons to stay fit. (A psychologist of the University of Rhode Island has found that focusing on one reason to stay fit each week is a key component of a successful exercise program.)

 Keep a diary of your activity, including how you felt during your exercise sessions.

   For most women, exercise is fine during pregnancy. In fact working out during pregnancy has been shown to contribute to fewer varicose veins, better posture, less fatigue, fewer bouts with back pain, and less water retention and constipation. It also can reduce stress and improve mental well – being. In addition, research suggests that fit woman tend to have more stamina and a shorter, less complicated labor.

  But before embarking on a fitness regimen, all pregnant women should get a doctor’s approval, as certain conditions (including pregnancy – induced hypertension, preterm labor, preterm rupture of membranes, incompetent cervix, persistent bleeding or multiple pregnancies) may indicate that a woman should not exercise or should modify her routine.

  Here are some other basic guidelines for you to follow during this time:

'       Although you may continue one you’ve already started (with modifications), do not start a vigorous exercise program during pregnancy.

'       Reduce the intensity, duration and frequency of your exercise program with each trimester. For example, if you were walking 3 15 min. miles each time, you should reduce your mileage and your pace sometime during the first trimester to 2 miles at a 16 or 17 – minute pace. Reduce that again during the second trimester to 1.5 miles and adopt an even slower pace. During the last trimester, your regimen should be reduced again accordingly.

'       Your center of gravity is different now, so walk and exercise on flat, level surfaces and avoid downhill inclines.

'       Make sure you don’t feel pain or become out of breath, dizzy or nauseated during your exercise sessions. Report any abnormal symptoms to your doctor.

'       If the aerobic exercise program you follow gets too uncomfortable, switch to another form of exercise.

'       Extend your warm- up and cool – down phases.

'       Monitor your body temperature; it should not exceed 101 degrees Fahrenheit during or after exercise (consider taking your temperature after your workout to be sure it is OK). Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workouts.

'       Eat a small snack before exercise to avoid becoming hypoglycemic.

'       Avoid overstretching. Your ligaments can become softer during pregnancy, so don’t go beyond the normal range of motion or jar your joints with high- impact moves.


Weight - bearing exercises for someone with osteoporosis?


   The good news is that although exercise has long been known to help younger women stave off the effects of this bone – thinning disease, a new study shows that intense physical activity can help older women achieve similar benefits.

 The two types of exercise that are most important for building and maintaining bone mass and density are weight – bearing and resistance exercises.

Weight – bearing and resistance exercise are those in which your bones and muscles work against gravity. The best exercises to increase bone mass are the ones that produce a high force on the bone, such as dancing, hiking, soccer, racket sports and weightlifting.

   If you are at risk for osteoporosis, try lower impact exercises, such as walking, treadmill walking, stair – step machines, rowing machines, cross – country ski machines, water aerobics and low – impact aerobics.

  For resistance training, incorporate weight – bearing activities that include balance challenges, such as squats, walking or standing weighted leg lifts for your lower body, and push – ups, tricep dips or pull-ups for your upper body.

Weight intensity and repetition ranges are heavily debated because overuse or over training can have diminishing returns in your battle against bone loss. It really depends on your current fitness level, recent exercise history and nutritional intake.



   There are many different causes of tendonitis one type is noticed most often after activities involving repeated lifting (such as picking up kids) or a side to side motion of your wrist (such as working on a computer). The problem is due to irritation of two tendons where they run through a very tight channel from the forearm to the thumb. Many people have two small separate channels for the tendons and are particularly predisposed to this problem.

Try to avoid any unnecessary wrist positions that are painful. Ice your wrist for five to 15 minutes at a time on the area that is most swollen and tender: See if your doctor might prescribe a splint or brace that will support both your wrist and thumb. A good book to check out on this The Jock Doc’s Body Repair Kit by Andrew Feldman.

  Dr. Andrew Feldman, a doctor that I had some personal experience and interviewed him, he is the chief of Sports Medicine and clinical instructor at St Vincent’s Hospital in New York, who offered these tips:

'       Mild symptoms improve with a limited period of anti-inflammatory medication and by avoiding painful activities, especially if the problem developed during unaccustomed activities. It is less likely to resolve itself if it related to light, repetitive work activities.

'       A cortisone shot (I personally don’t recommend it, cortisone leaves a gritty substance behind on the ligaments which might further aggravate the tendons in the long run ) into the sore area gives permanent relief to 2 out of 4 people with this problem, and it helps most others for up to two months.

'       Surgery helps more than 3 out of 5 people, but the others will have a new problem after surgery, such as numbness, possible phlebitis, fatigued, tenderness of the scar. (After my experience I would use surgery as a last resort).


General Safety Guidelines.


Consult your physician before engaging in physical activity, especially if U experience any of these listed below.


  I.        Do U feel pain in Ur chest when U do physical activity?

II.        In the past month, have U had any type of chest pain?

III.        Do U lose Ur balance because of dizziness or faint?

IV.        Do U have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity?

  V.        Is Ur physician currently prescribing drugs for your blood pressure or heart condition?

Always consider safety, as a #1 Priority, U will reach Ur goals when injuries R prevented. If uncertain of any kind of injury or health problem consult a professional before continuing or starting a regimen.

The best thing to do is to stop an exercise if U experience chest pain, dizziness or lightheadedness. Remember to learn how to breathe the right way for any type of exercise & learning the perfect form. Definitely not holding your breath, especially when lifting weights. Another important thing is to keep hydrated. Stretching approx. 10 min. is recommended both before & after intense activity (keep each movement slow & controlled holding for 10 –20 seconds, try not to bounce or over extend, flex, twist or lock any joints), or a 5-minute warm-up performing a low- density cardiovascular exercise. Always prefect technique prior to increasing intensity, as a precaution regardless of whether U R adding weight, time, distance, repetitions or speed, never increase by more than 10% of what Ur body was previously used to.


Cardiovascular Training Guidelines



     Cardiovascular exercises R activities that R rhythmic, continuous & utilize lg. Muscle groups (see chart). Vary Ur activities to emphasize different muscle groups, keep Ur exercise program interesting & assist in prevention of overuse injuries. Cardiovascular activities should last between 20 – 60 minutes. If U R unable to complete 20 min. of it, then work toward this duration gradually.


 Finding the best results is to workout 3 –5 days a week. The intensity is determined by calculating Ur target heart range. Subtract Ur age from 220, which indicates Ur predicted maximum heart rate level:

 I.          Low – to moderate – intensity exercise = 60% - 75% of Ur predicted maximum heart rate level.

II.          High – intensity exercise = 80% - 90% of Ur predicted maximum heart rate level.


Brisk Walking



Light Jogging (not recommended if having knee trouble)


Elliptical Striding


Stair Climbing


Cardiovascular activities should last between 20 –60 minutes. Don’t worry if U cannot do this at 1st. but working gradually toward this is a very good idea.


6 Reasons Y U should

Stick with your exercise program

Whether you’ve been exercising for years or are just getting started, some days it’s difficult to find the energy & the desire to work out. If U run into a roadblock, try to cut back on your regimen rather than completely stopping it. So when you’re searching for motivation to get U back in the groove, remember these 6 benefits:

1)  Live Longer Study after study shows that regular exercise – both aerobic & resistance training – will help U live longer. Exercise reduces the # of free radicals in your body, improves cardiovascular health, staves off diabetes, & protects against cancer.

2)  Think More Clearly Several studies show that aerobic exercise helps your brain function better. For example, 60 –to – 75 year – olds who walked as a rapid pace for 45 min. 3 times a week increased their ability to process information & successfully complete tasks, according to a study from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign. & Aerobic exercise was shown to improve high – level brain functions in people aged 50 – 77, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Participants improved their memories & their ability to plan, organize, & juggle tasks.

3) Feel Happier Duke Researchers found that exercise works at least as well as the drug Zoloft in treating clinical depression. Exercise is also better at warding off the return of symptoms once the depression has lifted.

4) Stand Taller Weight – bearing exercise & weight lifting stop bone loss& increase bone mass, both of which fight osteoporosis.

5) Sleep Sounder Regular physical activity can help U to sleep better, say researchers at the Respiratory Sciences & Sleep Disorders Center at the University of AZ in Tucson.

6)  Stay Trimmer Combined with a healthy diet, aerobic & weigh training exercise help U lose weight &stay slender. Aerobic exercise burns while you’re working out, & weight training builds muscle, which burns calories 24 hours a day.


Strength Training Guideslines



   Strength training is an integral part of both weight loss & muscle building exercise programs. When performing strength training exercises, make sure to focus on technique & controlling the weight, plus perform every exercise through a full range of motion.


For best results rest each muscle group 48-72 hrs. Choose a weight that U R capable of completing at least 8 repetitions, but R reasonably challenged to complete 12. Perform 1-3 sets of 7 –12 exercises that focus on major muscle groups. All resistance exercises contribute to strength training, including free weights & various weight-training machines.




A little post – workout pain is actually a good thing. “It comes from tiny muscle tears,” says Glen Carrigan, President of Progressive Health & fitness Education in Hilton Head, South Carolina. “When the tears heal, your muscle gets stronger. While it’s nice to be buff, you’ll need some relief to get back in the workout groove. Here it is.



 Level of soreness

    Mild soreness:

The muscle U used hurts when U move it but it doesn’t bother U during everyday activities.


    Give the muscle a thorough stretch. This helps it heal & reduces the chances of sourness after your next workout.

 Exercise Schedule

    Do a lighter version of the exercise that made U sore for a short period of time. This strategy helps muscles heal faster.


    Moderate soreness: The muscle U used hurts when U move it and it bothers U even when you’re sedentary.


    Stretch out the muscle thoroughly & take a non-steroidal anti – inflammatory pain reliever. The most common used is ibuprofen.


    U can still go to the gym; just avoid working the sore muscle for a few days & concentrate on the other muscle groups while it heals.


    Sever Soreness: The muscle U worked hurts all the time & you’re having trouble using it to perform everyday tasks.

    Rest, ice the tender area, and try massaging it. The best thing is to talk to a doctor or a physical therapist.

    When the soreness is gone, begin to work out again at a reduced intensity & gradually work up to tougher workouts.



When to work out



   Working out at different times during the day can give U different benefits, it depends what your goal is, for most individuals, morning work outs R most effective: By getting the exercise in early, U R more likely to stick to a regular routine.

o   Better moods & less tension through the day

o   Better mind – set for food intake

o   Improvement in sleep pattern & cognitive function

Later in the day also provides benefits, such as less chance of sleep depravation from rising early & injury.

o   Increases respiratory capacity

o   Greater improvements in sleep patterns & cognitive function.

Whenever U choose to schedule fitness is fine. Try not to work out before bed it may wake U up with a burst of energy. (It’s better than not at all).


Source of Reference: Natural Health Magazine, Encyclopedia Natural Medicine Michael Murray, N.D., Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., Daily News, American baby, Life 2.20.06, USA weekend 8.26-28.06, Bally Total Fitness.