Cancer Prevention -Shira on Sports Medicine Radio

Cancer Prevention with Exercise

Cancer Prevention and management, and the prevention and management of all of our chronic illnesses……Exercise.

cancer prevention
Shira Litwack Industry Expert Cancer Exercise

Shira Litwack is Interview with the Sports Medicine Specialists at NYU, February 2015 on the Sirius XM Sports Medicine Rehab show, in honour of Cancer Awareness month.

The role of exercise in both cancer prevention and management is unfortunately not well known. Over the last 20 years there have been hundreds of studies proving the importance of the right exercise for cancer prevention and exercise

It is very important to note that not all exercise is suggested, and there are contraindications.

Let’s understand different forms of exercise, and how we choose, based on the cancer and the other medical needs of the patient, how we look at exercise.

I always insist the “E” in Exercise is for effort – however my implication is both mental & physical effort.

The stereotype of exercise is that heart thumping bop till you drop – but that is only one aspect of exercise. Exercise is like a diamond – adds the brilliant shine to our being – and like a diamond is multifaceted – and without those many facets – doesn’t shine the same.

That push as hard as you can exercise mentality when taken to extreme, or with certain medical conditions can be a burden to our health if not tempered. Studies have shown that for certain people exercising over 80% max threshold  for 30 minutes or more can raise cortisol (stress hormone) levels over 80% – which can in turn actually prevent us from achieving our intended exercise goals.

Let’s look at two categories of exercise: Mentally engaging vs. habitual.

Habitual: Thats more of the stereotype – running, our “cardio” time – however I did promise exercise guru Dr. Steve Blair I would not perpetuate that term. We don’t really have to think about it. Habitual exercise is fabulous for cardio respiratory fitness, fat burn or as I call it “getting our ya yas out”. It is a fabulous time for extrospective thought. I always say I do my very best problem solving, brainstorming during cardio time. I have been known when asked a question to reply “Let me cardio on it”. Great time to pump the Ipod & soar, reach new levels of personal performance & pride. Yes, the sweat should be glimmering giving us that “healthy glow”. The stinkier the better – thats why showers were created.and can be oh so….

In fitness we often prescribe to the FITT formula: Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type. I propose we change this to FITTT: Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type & Telomeres. Telomeres are strands, like caps at the end of our chromosomes. Telomeres seem to be like the rings on a tree – an indication of the cell’s age. Science is showing us as telomere’s “age”  – shorten, shred – so comes the death of the cells….and we age. Exercise that increases heart rate, that makes us glisten like the most brilliant diamond – actually lengthen telomeres – the true science of why exercise is the best anti aging serum – not those over priced cosmetic serums you pay to have their marketing department dupe you. Gym membership: average $400/year less than 20% of a city’s population belongs to a gym. The “anti aging” cosmetic industry – billions.

Mentally Engaging: Focus. Soooooo important – an equally brilliant shine to our diamond. Aka “mindful exercise” – is about turning the focus inward. Breathe deep, focus on our breathing and every tiny movement of our body. Take it slow, listen to our body’s response to the movement, heed to the rhythm of our heartbeat – and please put the iPod away for this! Ever watch someone do bicep curls to Kanye? Strength training, yoga, Pilates, qigong, meditation….all of these merit mindful performance.

Besides the many physical, strength, endurance aspects of mentally engaging exercise there are an equal number of psychological benefits. Far too often in life we go around in what I call “robomode” ……we act without thought. Mindful activities – including mindful eating, mindful exercising provide tremendous brain boosting & cognitive strength – as well as discipline – how the body does crave discipline – which too needs to be exercised.   And yes, we can break a serious sweat during mentally engaging physical activity.