In February of this year, we held a weekly “PC/Aerobic Challenge” program here at HealingWell/Prostate Cancer which lasted 4-weeks. The program provided motivation and support in the true spirit of “healing well” for participants to get up, get out and get some exercise. Prostate cancer patients/survivors shared their own personal achievements & experiences in exercising irrespective of where they were in Active Surveillance or treatment¾before, during and after treatments (primary treatment, secondary, and even tertiary for some). There was also open sharing of the medical studies and research which have demonstrated the measurable benefits of exercise (along with diet/nutrition and stress reduction) to men¾even men with biopsy-proven prostate cancer.
There was a high level of interest, enthusiasm, participation and support for the weekly “PC/Aerobic Challenge” program. Men who had been sedentary joined a nearby gym. Others who had already been physically active took it up-a-notch and reached for greater challenges. The 4 weekly threads generated well over 5,000 “views”/“hits” of interest, discussion and sharing. If you are interested in re-visiting those threads, here are the links:
· Week 1 (of 4) PC/Aerobic Challenge – 1/10/11 thru 1/16/11
· Week 2 (of 4) PC/Aerobic Challenge – 1/17/11 thru 1/23/11
· Week 3 (of 4) PC/Aerobic Challenge – 1/24/11 thru 1/30/11
· Week 4 (of 4) PC/Aerobic Challenge – 1/31/11 thru 2/6/11
The purpose of this thread is to help keep the momentum going…but on a monthly basis!
Since the Jan-Feb weekly “Challenge”, there have been many newcomers (the sad reality) who will profit from learning about the benefits of exercise by prostate cancer patients/survivors. And many of the participants from the Jan-Feb event have inquired about extending the program. I hope that this thread grows long with enthusiasm and support.
See this Mayo Clinic web page (LINK) titled “Exercise: When to check with your doctor first”, which is based on American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) inputs (thanks for that link, TimG).
The evidence is overwhelming that sedentary lifestyle is high risk for cancers [plural].
Dr Michael Kattan (medical statistician, prostate nomogram developer (the well-known “Kattan nomogram”), now with Cleveland Clinic) wrote in the Journal of Urology that, "Age, fitness and body weight have a far bigger effect on survival than PSA, Gleason score, or any type of treatment. The diagnosis of prostate cancer should be taken as a helpful wake-up call encouraging men to improve their diet and start exercising."
Need more to motivate you? How about this:
· A medical study compared PSA progression in two sets of about 100 men who had biopsy-confirmed low risk prostate cancer over the period of one year. One set of men added exercise, diet changes and stress reduction, the other set did nothing different. The average PSA of the men with lifestyle changes decreased, while the average PSA of the men with no changes increased at the rate normally predicted. LINK1, LINK2, LINK3
· The benefits of exercise to the vascular system are well-documented. Ten-times as many men die of vascular (heart) disease than die from prostate cancer. PC is among the more common and less lethal malignancies, yielding a large population of survivors. A lesser-known outcome of this is that more men with PC die of heart disease than die from PC. LINK4, LINK5
Taking a critical look at our medical system, ours is a system of pills and procedures which nurtures a clinical culture in which the goal is to primarily fix what goes wrong. Too often we put ourselves in the hands of narrowly-focused, albeit skilled, medical professionals, and then do little else to optimize our own chances for the fullest recovery. Retaining a medical team without doing all you can to help yourself is like attempting to walk with one stilt¾it's possible but the results are frequently disappointing.
While there are no “silver bullets” or “magic pills” that one can take to make one’s prostate cancer journey go back in time, many medical authorities refer to exercise as the closest thing to a magic pill that one can get to fight-off coronary disease, depression, chronic fatigue, chronic pain and other chronic illnesses (like PC).
We know we can't ultimately cheat death and live forever, but we can take steps to extend longevity and improve the quality of our life. Many of the PC/Aerobic Challenge participants have found that these important steps don’t have to be either difficult or costly…but they take commitment and a willingness to change for the better. Realistically, there is no downside to exercising, but there is a broad spectrum of upsides.
If the prostate cancer and the challenging side effects of PC treatment motivate us to make the necessary changes we know we should do anyway, then for many/most of us prostate cancer will likely extend our lives and also improve the quality of those extended years.
Read this excellent article titled, “How Prostate Cancer Can Extend Your Life.” LINK5
I have kept up approximately the same pace of exercise since the end of the 4-week “PC/Aerobic Challenge” period. I will summarize my activities in this way:
· I use a logbook to track my exercise LINK. I found that keeping a journal helps with the consistency of my workouts, and helps me push myself harder in measured, planned amounts. According to my logbook, in the 8 weeks that have transpired since the end of the weekly Challenge, and I have exercised 39 times for an average of 4.9 times per week.
· I do a lot of running on the elliptical trainer because it is easy on my arthritic knees. According to the data in my logbook, I ran 104 miles in the last 8 weeks.
· During the 3rd week of the 4-week “PC/Aerobic Challenge”, Galileo got me started on the “100 Push-Up Challenge.” It’s a 6-week program (minimum) to reach the ability to do 100 consecutive push-ups! It took me 7 weeks, but I successfully completed the program! This was a difficult challenge. I am actually going back through the program now a second time while working on the quality of my push-ups…the first time through I would admit that the quality suffered.
· During the 4th week of the 4-week “PC/Aerobic Challenge”, I added the “Pull-Up Challenge” to my workout routine…also courtesy of Galileo. (It’s actually what I call a “chin-up” when your palms are facing outward, which is harder than palms inward.) There are several different online versions of this, but the one I started begins with one pull-up (this is all I could initially do), but 12 sets of 1 (I was doing this 3 different days in a week). The next week, you do 6 sets of 2 pull-ups. In week #3, do 4 sets of 3 pull-ups. Week #4 do 3 sets of 4 pull-ups, and week #5 do 2 sets of 6. This was as far as I got. The program was intended to lead to 12 consecutive pull-ups. I might re-attempt this challenge later in the year.
There is an exercise level that is appropriate for everyone. In fact, exercises have been developed by physiologists for bed-ridden patients because of the great benefits that can be realized by many. My exercise routine might not be right for you; and, yours may not be right for me. Use this LINK to help find YOUR own personal fitness level.
The key is to get up, get out, and do something! While there are lots of medical studies out there proving the benefits, one of the most straight-forward studies found that men who engaged in vigorous physical activity for 30 minutes per week (jogging, biking, swimming, or playing tennis) had a 35% lower risk of dying from any cause. Men who walked 4 or more hours per week had a 23% lower risk of dying from any cause than men who walked for less than 20 minutes. Power walkers – those who walked 90 minutes or more at a normal to brisk pace -- saw their risk decline even more, by 51%, as compared to men who walked less (less than 90 minutes at an easy pace). A little is good, but more is better.
Good luck. Now let’s hear from you…