Medicine Wheel: The Body and Physical Activity's Benefits
Daily physical activity helps the body in many different ways
This is true for all people (not just cancer survivors)
Movement of our arms and legs helps the heart, lungs and bones get stronger
Activity helps body organs and systems to work more efficiently
It helps get rid of body waste
It makes the brain function better
It improves balance
Find some type of movement and activity that you find enjoyable
Walking with your family?
Walking while listening to music or books or praying?
Playing games like basketball?
All are good for you
Do something and do it every day
It doesn't have to be the same activity
Mix it up
Do it alone!
Do it with family or friends!
But add some type of activity
See which ones you enjoy that make you breathe harder
Find some type of "play" of something that is fun
Sitting on a swing in the park and swinging? Sure. Why not!
Start with something small and not too difficult
But, find something you can imagine yourself doing for a lot of years of feeling happy, good and strong again
Physical Activity Reduces:
Heart disease risk
Diabetes / insulin problems
LDL ("bad" cholesterol) & triglycerides
Increases HDL ("good" cholesterol)
Severity of sleep problems
Degenerative joint symptoms
Female reproductive problems
Health Benefits of Daily Physical Activity
Improves the efficiency of how your body works (hormones, rid of wastes)
Protects and builds lean bodies
Improves your mind, emotions, spirit / health (the "mind", "emotion" and "spirit" parts of the Medicine Wheel all mixed together in a good way)
Reduces risk of chronic / long-term diseases and causes of death
Delays the aging processes
Strengthen muscles, or keep them from weakening
Lower the risk of heart disease
Lessen the risk bones will weaken
Lessen the risk of blood clots
Lessen dependence on others to perform daily tasks
Improve self-esteem and lower risk of anxiety and depression (the "emotion" part of the Medicine Wheel)
Help control weight - Note that weight gain is a side effect for many breast cancer patients
Normal body weight
Body mass index, or BMI, is a way to help you figure out if you are at a healthy weight for your height. BMI is a number based on your weight and height
BMI is an estimate only
Many conditions can affect BMI, such as someone who has a lot of muscle rather than a lot of fat tissue in the body will weigh more but is actually in better health
Many times during cancer treatment, you will lose muscle because you do not feel well enough to take part in normal activities
BMI can under-estimate body fat when you have lost muscle
A good web site to help you calculate BMI is from the National Institutes of Health, Heart, Lung and Blood institute: nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases
These include diseases like
High blood pressure
Type 2 diabetes
To use the BMI table below, find the appropriate height in the left-hand column labeled Height. Move across to a given weight (in pounds). The number at the top of the column is the BMI at that height and weight. Pounds are rounded off.
Waist Circumference is also important
If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you're at a higher risk for health problems
Type 2 diabetes
This risk is greatest if your waist is larger than 35 inches for women or more than 40 inches for men
To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones
Measure your waist just after you breathe out
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the table above gives you "a guess" for your disease risk
You read this table by looking at BMI in the 1st column, then compare with your waist size
If Mary has BMI for 33, and her waist size is 35 inches, her risk for diseases like colon cancer or diabetes is high
Exercise can help reduce the size of her waist that also reduces her risks for these diseases
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