Written by Laura Shipp, National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation
On Sunday, June 7, tens of thousands of people around the world gathered in their local communities to observe the 28th annual National Cancer Survivors Day® (NCSD).
NCSD is an annual worldwide Celebration of Life that is held on the first Sunday in June. Hundreds of cities across the U.S. and abroad held celebrations on this day to honor cancer survivors, to bring attention to the ongoing challenges of cancer survivorship, and to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful, rewarding, and inspiring.
Many local NCSD event coordinators made an effort to highlight the importance of physical fitness for cancer survivors as part of their Survivors Day celebrations. A fitness-focused National Cancer Survivors Day event provides a good opportunity to educate cancer survivors on the role physical fitness plays in cancer survivorship, as well as to offer tips on how to incorporate fitness into their daily lives.
The Importance of Physical Activity for Cancer Survivors
Research has shown that physical fitness is important for everyone – and maybe even more so for cancer survivors. In addition to providing general health benefits like helping to control weight and reducing the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, regular physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of several common cancers.
For cancer survivors, research shows that physical activity may help improve quality of life, reduce fatigue, lessen the side effects of cancer treatment, reduce pain, and may even improve prognosis. The American Cancer Society’s Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors encourages cancer survivors to
- Engage in regular physical activity
- Avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible following diagnosis
- Aim to exercise at least 150 minutes per week
- Include strength training exercises at least 2 days per week
Highlighting Physical Fitness on National Cancer Survivors Day
Recognizing the important role that physical activity plays in cancer survivorship, local NCSD event coordinators highlight physical fitness on National Cancer Survivors Day in a number of ways. Some examples of fitness-focused NCSD activities include:
- 5k run/walks for cancer survivors and supporters
- Fitness demonstrations of restorative yoga, Zumba, or light resistance training for cancer survivors
- Keynote speeches on exercise during and after cancer
- Health and fitness expos
- Question and answer sessions with panels of cancer exercise specialists, dietitians, and fitness experts
Above: Participants demonstrate physical activity at a National Cancer Survivors Day event.
For many cancer survivors, a fitness-themed National Cancer Survivors Day celebration may be just the motivation they need to take that first step toward a more active lifestyle.
We want to hear from you. What other strategies can be used to encourage physical activity among cancer survivors?