WALKING for Emotional Health


My Emotional Health-My Choice: Walking

The diagnosis of cancer throws life as the individual knows, prior to the diagnosis, to a state of uncertainty. There is a constant effort to find solutions/cures. Susan Sontag, herself a survivor of Cancer, describes the change as follows; Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place. …Yet it is hardly possible to take up one’s residence in the kingdom of the ill unprejudiced by the lurid metaphors with which it has been landscaped.

Living with a diagnosis of cancer and caregiving for a family member with a diagnosis of cancer is associated  DISTRESS, DEPRESSION and impaired QUALITY OF LIFE.

It is to address these effects, as well as to enhance survival, along with other treatments, taking care of emotional health is important. You can see the evidence for this asseryion in the ABOUT section of the Blogpost.

This section presents 10 actions ((1.Walking, 2. Sleep, 3.Diet, 4.Yoga/Meditation, 5.Art/Music,  6.Sharing of feelings, 7.Social network, 8.Writing, 9.Spirituality, 10.Focussing on the present) that can be taken to maintain/enhance emotional health.

Each of the activity is presented as (i)  the importance of the activity, (ii) the scientific evidence to support the vale of the activity in cancer care; (iii) ways to apply the activity as part of day to day life and (iv) examples from persons diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers as to how they have used the activity for their benefit.


Walking and exercise have cone to occupy a central place in the health discussions. Harvard Medical school(USA) refers to it as follows:

‘The simple cure for the biggest health problem in America’;

‘The best prescription, without medicines’

 Guardian, London, wrote, ‘If exercise was a pill, it would be the biggest blockbuster in the history of medicine. We weren’t built to sit in front of a computer, a TV screen and a steering wheel. We were designed to be moving around.’(October 3,2017).

 Here is the evidence supporting the value of walking/exercise in persons diagnosed with cancer.

  1. Sedentary lifestyle increases bowel cancer risk in men (British Journal of Cancer, Mar 2018)
  2. Decreases risk of Cancer: Leisure-time physical activity was associated with lower risks of 26 types of cancer types in a study of 14.4 lack population (JAMA Internal Medicine,2016);
  3. In the largest and most extensive study of its kind, the analysis involved 33,908 Norwegian adults who had their levels of exercise and symptoms of depression and anxiety monitored over 11 years. The research team found that 12 percent of cases of depression could have been prevented if participants undertook just one hour of physical activity each week.
  4. Exercise appears to be an effective treatment for depression, improving depressive symptoms to a comparable extent as pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy (ACMS Health and fitness,2012);
  5. Allogeneic transplant patients derive functional benefits from short-term exercise training (Psycho-Oncology, February 2009);
  6. Cancer survivors participating in exercise demonstrate improved cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, improved physical functioning, improved body image, decreased body fat, reduced fatigue, and improved overall quality of life (QOL);(Psycho-Oncology, Feb 2009);

The February 2009, special issue of Psycho-Oncology, concluded: ‘Physical Activity(PA)  research is making an important contribution to the health and well-being of cancer survivors across the entire cancer control continuum’.

Examples of persons diagnosed with Cancer incorporating physical activity :

(from the  members of whatsapp group: My Emotional Health-My choice).

*I love to walk, it’s my most pleasurable time. If I couldn’t walk any day I miss something and feeling guilty. I can walk about 1 hour a day. I thank god for giving  me the strength for mobility. I cannot express more about my happy walking…usually evening 4.30 to 6 my own time to walk with few friends. If friends  are not available I will say god OK. Walking in park with trees is most adorable. I feel more relaxed  after finishing my walk. Trekking also most favourite.  When I walk I forget my age or illness during walking.One more point, I can smile with people during walking.I wish to walk in jungle with rivers sound birds whistle during late evening or night with full moon.
**Two days back realised my long cherished dream of learning  cycling. I observed that even  when I  cycle for about 500meters,  I sweat a lot and my rate of metabolism has gone up. I felt this feeling after a very very long period. Everyday I do go fir walks on weekends do yoga for aboutt an hour but never felt this. Pinkathon training at Cubbon  Park, on Saturday mornings, really helped me to overcome my apprehensions. I really wish cancer survivors join this group which is free.

***The observation of group members  about maintaining good discipline as challenging applies to me also. It will be good to learn from each other’s experiences. For example, since my illness I walk for about 40 minutes daily in the morning. Walking with my wife, has been good for my motivation and being together. We rarely miss the morning walk.
****Joined running group. I needed little motivation and inspiration to exercise on daily basis. Exercise regimen is structured and easy to follow and stick to it. Group postings helps to make me get up from couch and do excersise. Taking part in sports events has helped me to invest on me in terms of time and money and now enjoying the benefit of it.
*****Such motivational posts, from the group if gets posted at on and off, then, will certainly help us some disciplined regime. Else, sticking, adherence is a real challenge. I have started walking since Monday post removal of my drain after surgery. First day walked for 20 minutes after a gap of over a month. Then fell weak with body ache for a couple of days. Yesterday again started walking for 15 minutes, today 20 minutes. I love walks.
******I used and still go to walk  and do yoga and swimming and play snooker. Earlier I used to go for walk at 5am and then at 6 am swimming. Then at 3 pm gym and play snooker. After cancer 10 years back and now again a patient with chemo. I now go for swimming at 10 am at 11 I go to gym and do walking on thread mill and cycling for 1 hour. Then I play snooker till 1.30pm. Sometimes I walk again in the evening for minutes. I try to be active but I get tired and have severe body and leg pain. But still try to walk but swimming doesn’t tire me.
*******I do kapalabhaati in the morning and Shambhavi kriya I learnt in inner engineering regularly. Started swimming recently. And walking also 3 to 4 times a week for 1 hour.
********Wow!!! reading the messages is quite motivating…people  are doing so much.


Research team found that patients who were physically active both before and after treatment were 40% more likely to survive than those who were physically inactive.
Sedentary lifestyle drastically increases risk of dying from cancer

Researchers from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer contribute to the growing body of evidence linking physical inactivity and an increased risk of mortality among cancer patients, emphasizing the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle and the importance of regular exercise as therapy for cancer patients both during and after treatment.
The team is presenting the findings at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2018 in Chicago, Ill in April 2018.

This is the first study to demonstrate an association of pre- and post-diagnosis inactivity with survival across several different cancer types.
Study covered 5,807 cancer patients between 2003 and 2016.

The investigators looked at patterns of physical activity over time, during a period spanning the decade before the cancer was diagnosed and continuing for up to one year after diagnosis.

This was true for many different disease types, including breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, bladder, endometrial, oesophagal and skin cancer.
“In other words, when it comes to exercise, something is better than nothing but regular, weekly exercise seems to really make a difference,”.

One of the most striking observations was that previously-inactive patients who began exercising after their diagnosis increased their odds of survival by nearly 30%.
Source: Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
From ecanceralerts, April 27, 2018.

October 21,2018.
Exercise is known to be associated with reduced risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, but its association with mental health remains unclear.A recent study of more than 1lack adults found

‘Individuals who exercised had 1·49 (43·2%) fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than individuals who did not exercise but were otherwise matched for several physical and sociodemographic characteristics’.

All exercise types were associated with a lower mental health burden (minimum reduction of 11·8% and maximum reduction of 22·3%) than not exercising (p<2·2 × 10 −16 for all exercise types). The largest associations were seen for popular team sports (22·3% lower), cycling (21·6% lower), and aerobic and gym activities (20·1% lower), as well as durations of 45 min and frequencies of three to five times per week.

So, one more good reason for making exercise a regular part of life.
Source: The Lancet, September 2018.

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