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By Ackerman Cancer Center

on 06/20/2017

The Many Benefits of Routine Physical Activity

Developing or maintaining a routine exercise habit can be difficult, but exercise and physical activity is important to health. Even those undergoing cancer treatment or recuperating from other health related issues often heal more effectively and faster by staying active. 

Decades ago, surgical patients (and even new mothers) faced long hospitals stays, but we now know that inactivity equals muscle loss, weakness, susceptibility to infections and other health ailments. In fact, the benefit of regular exercise is so clear that everyone from physicians to insurance companies are focused on getting people moving.

Obesity costs this country an eye-opening $190 billion per year. That’s why it is no surprise that insurers are offering financial incentives designed to help policyholders get and stay fit. 

Insurance Reimbursement
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care reimburses clients up to $150 annually for gym membership. To qualify, policyholders must have belonged to a gym equipped with cardiovascular and strength-training equipment for at least four months. 

Insurance giant Aetna also rewards healthy behaviors. The company promotes fitness by providing discounts on gym membership and home exercise equipment purchases. Even some Medicare plans have a Silver Slipper benefit option to incentivize seniors to enroll in fitness and exercise classes.

Physical & Mental Well-Being
Those with serious or chronic conditions, such as cancer, can benefit immensely from routine exercise. Here are just a few advantages regular activity provides: 
• Improves balance
• Builds and maintains muscle and bone strength
• May reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, depression, cholesterol level and weight gain
• Lessens nausea, fatigue and stress
• Improves blood flow
• Promotes self-esteem and independence
• Improves quality of life

A Step at a Time is an innovative program at Ackerman Cancer Center that was designed to promote health and encourage patients to increase their physical activity levels gradually. How does it work?

Patients are provided with everything needed to get started including a pedometer to monitor performance. You are also able to use the health applications on your smartphone if you prefer. Ongoing weekly monitoring assists participants in reaching fitness goals. 

Step at a Time program members begin by tracking their daily steps, with a goal of reaching the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines recommended 10,000 steps a day - or less, depending on your individual tolerance level. Participants typically strive to increase activity by 500 steps each week, but the pace varies depending on the personal health and fitness level of the individual. At the end of treatment, participants are able to keep the pedometer and receive a certificate showing their results.

This is a free program offered to patients at Ackerman Cancer Center who meet certain health eligibility requirements. To enroll in the program or to learn if you are eligible, contact Ackerman Cancer Center’s oncology wellness specialist, Karen Ambrosio. Individuals with all levels of physical ability can generally walk safely, but it is a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

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