Cancer log 203: LiveStrong

This is a paean to lackadaisical but regular exercise. So, this March, a year post-cancer treatment, I signed up for a free program at the local YMCA (funded by the Lance Armstrong foundation). I agreed to show up Mon / Wed from 6 – 7:30 for 3 months, let them run me through a mix of aerobic and weight training, and I’d get a free membership to the Y for completing the program. (This is sadly not available at all Y’s — if you’re a cancer survivor, check with your local Y if interested.)

The reason I’m posting is because I was a totally mediocre participant. I missed at least a quarter of the classes due to scheduling conflicts or winter colds. When I went, I never did more than the minimum expected, and the minimum was pretty minimal, because the class was geared towards people recovering from illness, and so it was all ‘go at your own pace,’ and ‘lift only as much as you feel like.’ It was a busy semester, I was harried and tired and cranky about going.

And nonetheless, the numbers don’t lie. My cardio capacity generally is not great, but if you look at my resting heart rate at the end of a 6-minute walking function test, it dropped from 132 to 111.

The amount I could lift with both arms and legs also increased (75 / 275 to 85 / 305).

(Sidebar: yes, my legs are freakishly strong. I attribute it to my work-study job freshman year which had me trotting up and down stairs for two hours every weekday, leaving me with calves-of-steel.)

The changes are minor, but considering that I wasn’t tracking or making any real effort to lift more than was easy to do, I’m still pretty impressed. What’s more, everyone in the class showed similar improvement, including people who were much older, much more out-of-shape, and much more recently ill than I was.

Show up, as regularly as you can manage. It matters, in exercise and elsewhere.

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