Incorporating Exercise Into Your Life After Breast Cancer

Beth Brophy Health Guide
  • Part of my life after breast cancer routine includes regular exercise, and one of my favorite parts of summer is that instead of dutifully trudging off to my gym four or five mornings a week, I can swim instead. Not that I have anything against my gym--which is a haven for middle-aged, overweight exercisers like myself, as well as for a fair amount of more fit younger and older exercisers. What I like most about my gym is that it’s not full of spandex-wearing size twos, underlining the futility of my attempts to get in shape.

    My gym is equipped with an indoor pool, but it’s not my pool of choice. A few summers ago, when I had a several month-long bout with joint pain related to my aromatase inhibitors and I had to stop using the elliptical machine for awhile, I did some water aerobics classes there. I hated them. Unlike Pilates, and Step and Yoga, and some of the other classes I’ve tried at the gym, water aerobics was geared to the elderly and the infirm. I didn’t like being lumped in a class with them, even if that’s just where I belonged.
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    My pool of choice is outdoors, serene, beautifully landscaped and much more private. It’s located five minutes away by car, in the backyard of my best friend, where it hardly gets any use. This year, four of us hired a water aerobics teacher to give us a private class once a week. It took awhile to get into the groove--the teacher was off-putting at first. She expected us to learn the moves even though her legs were underwater and we couldn’t see them. And we hated the loud music she played. But eventually we all adjusted to each other and the horrible music and it’s been fun.

    In addition to the weekly classes, I swim by myself a few times a week. While my solitary swimming sessions lack the camaraderie of our class, where we laugh a lot, I find it soothing to be outdoors rather than in the noisy gym. It gives me a feeling of peace to be working out in nature--if you can call a built-in pool, no matter how pretty, nature. (I can and I do.) And while I find all exercise fundamentally boring, the novelty of being outdoors during these few brief months makes me almost look forward to my work-outs.

    This past week, due to a malfunctioning pool heater, I had to go back to the gym a few times instead of swimming. It wasn’t too bad, climbing back on the elliptical and tuning in CNN. There’s a certain comfort in the familiar. It was a preview of the coming fall, when I’ll be back to my usual gym routine. And thinking, with longing, of the many laps I did this summer, under the shade of the tall and stately trees.

Published On: August 28, 2006