Exercising at home

It’s great if you can get out to exercise but for some people that isn’t an option, especially at the moment with c19. However, it is really important to exercise, to move as much as possible. Exercising is good for our health, mental and physical.

As the NHS advises in its guidelines‘Adults should do some type of physical activity every day. Any type of activity is good for you. The more you do the better’ (My emphasis).

During the last couple of weeks I have been thinking about the exercise we can do at home and looking out for exercise at home ideas and tips that I can share with you, some of these are indoor exercise, some can be indoors or outdoors and others are outdoors only. I also asked for ideas on Twitter, thank you so much to everyone who replied (see end of blog post).

Online classes

Many fitness instructors have started online classes accessible via zoom for a small charge.

For example, Zoe George, a specialist in cancer rehabilitation, pelvic floor function and spinal conditions is offering online classes accessible via zoom through her website Exercise Therapy Online where you can also find contact details and other resources. Over the years Zoe and her colleague Theresa have worked with the excellent John Le Vay Cancer Support and Information Centre in Ipswich hospital to provide exercise classes for breast and prostate cancer patients. I loved the breast cancer rehabilitation exercise class I attended and have heard great reports from the men who have been to the prostate cancer rehabilitation exercise class. I also found their Breast Cancer Exercise DVD (available through their website) helpful in regaining movement and strength following treatment.

Online personal trainer

Online Videos

There is a great selection of free exercise routines available through the NHS Fitness Studio website .

There are also many free exercise routines on YouTube. These are some of the channels I have come across which I like, many provide options for a range of abilities and fitness levels.

Others have suggested

DVDs

I have several old exercise DVDs at home which I’ve dusted off. If you don’t have enough data to live stream classes or use YouTube DVDs might be a better option for you.

Apps

There are apps for just about every activity under the sun. I haven’t explored any exercise at home apps but you might find something helpful.

Ball games

There are lots of things you can do with a ball, by yourself or with others. For example, bouncing or kicking or throwing a ball against the ground or a wall. Alternatively you could buy a basketball ring, football goal, net etc.

Bowling games – Bocce/boules/pétanque/skittles

Cricket

Perhaps using a rebound net.

Croquet

Crosstrainer

Dancing

By yourself, with others in your household, using apps, dance mats, games, with others on zoom. Perhaps learn a new type of dance.

Exercise bike

Perhaps using an app like One Pelaton. If you don’t have an exercise bike you could buy a stand to convert your usual bicycle.

Fitness Tracker

There are a lot of fitness trackers on the market. I use my Fitbit to monitor my exercise time, heart rate, sleep and steps. The app offers a Premium service which gives you access to all kinds of health and fitness tips.

Gardening

If you have a garden, gardening is a great way to exercise.

Golf

Perhaps using a small practice net.

Hoopla

Housework (!)

Hula hooping

Racquet sports

Practice hitting a ball against the ground or a wall or you could buy a rebounder. The soft tennis sets are a great option if you want to play indoors against a wall.

Resistance bands

Rowing machine

Running around your garden

Skipping

Step Aerobics.

I have been inspired to try using a step after seeing Jo Moseley’s (@Happyhealthy50) Everest in a Month (@Everestinamonth) challenge.

Swimming (in my dreams)

Swiss Ball

Even if you just sit on it while you watch your favourite tv show you’re working your core muscles.

Table tennis

Trampolining

Full size or mini

Weights

If you don’t have any weights, use a tin of tomatoes.

Walking around your home or garden

A few other thoughts I’ve had ~

Before buying anything new think about what you might already have in your home. I found an ab cruncher, badminton, racquetball and tennis racquets, a basketball, a football, tennis balls, racquetball balls and shuttlecocks, a boules set and weights in the garage and the loft.

If you don’t have, don’t want or can’t afford equipment and/or have limited indoor or outdoor space and have to stay at home the online videos are possibly your most accessible option. That’s why I love them so much. Equipment can be expensive so only invest in it if your budget allows and you’re sure you will use it. Or perhaps ask around, one of your contacts might be only too pleased to free up some space by loaning, passing on or selling their equipment or DVDs.

If you live with others, involve them. Have fun together.

Be kind to yourself. Do what you can, we are all different. Listen to your body and pace yourself. If you have had cancer treatments you might find the Untire app helpful to better manage your fatigue.

Perhaps if exercise has negative connotations for you, retrain your thought patterns. Perhaps think of doing exercise as a gift you’re giving yourself to practise self-care and to self-nurture. Try to enjoy feeling your body move.

I hope you find these ideas helpful, even if it’s just to give you another exercise at home idea of your own. If so please share your ideas with me in the comments.

Many thanks for reading x

(With special thanks to all who responded to my tweet: Ali (@AliGardnerHHH), Anne (@Ewigkeit1), Belinda (@goldengirlnot), Cat (@cat_colourfield), Debbie (@debbieblissnews), Dennis (@Denniskeim), Erin (@buttersy), Georgina (@flowersorcakes), Jayne (@jaynergeorge), Jennifer (@JenniferTester8), Jill (@JB39832600), Julia (@JuliaClare11), Juliet (@julietfitzy), Karen (@kjr2508), Kay (@KayCurtin1), Kristen (@KBlankenship826), Lisa (@lisadawnloft), Lori (@Lori_Burwell), Lucy (@traybakequeen) Maggie (@Maggie_Roch), Mia (@BSBreastcancer), Neeta (@NeetaFitness), Noirin (@NoironONeill), Northerner181 (@Northerner181), Peggy (@PeggyB63), Racheal (@raquelwench), Ruth (@ruthdal), Shiona (@Shomelamona), SurvivorSAKE (@SurvivorSAKE), Tracey (@TheReIvention3))

This morning: Lament and thanks

Lament

This morning I woke up with a profound sense of grief and loss.

This morning I let myself grieve the loss of my pre-cancer life. I let myself grieve the loss of my pre-cancer body. I let myself grieve the loss of my pre-cancer hair.

This morning I let myself grieve the loss of my pre-coronavirus Covid-19 life. I let myself grieve the loss of being able to spend time with my family and friends.

This morning I let myself grieve all the losses.

This morning I let myself lament.

This morning I reached out to a friend for prayer. She responded with a written prayer. I read it and I prayed. Almost imperceptibly my focus shifted.

This morning I remembered the times I woke up with tears on my pillow as I waited for that first chemotherapy. That fear of the unknown. That visceral fear.

This morning I remembered the words that comforted me then:

“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.

(Psalm 56, The Message)

This morning I pondered the meaning of these words. I am not a theologian but I believe God cares intimately for me and us and our suffering world. I believe God cares and remembers our sorrow as if he kept each tear in a bottle.

This morning I remembered that

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

(Revelation 21, NIV)

This morning I know I am loved.

This morning I know that ultimately all will be well.

Thanks

This morning I am feeling thankful for lament. I am feeling thankful I am able to able to connect with my grief and my loss.

This morning I am feeling thankful for my post-cancer life, my post-cancer body, my post-cancer hair.

This morning I am feeling thankful for my life.

This morning I am feeling thankful for life.

This morning I am feeling thankful to God, for his care and his love.

This morning I give thanks to God. Like a child with a loving parent I am held in his loving arms.

This morning.

Summer term: reflect, review, reset

So the Easter holidays have come to an end and it’s the beginning of a new school term unlike any other.

Earlier this week as I hung out the washing I noticed how quiet it was. Normally I can hear children playing in the school playground nearby but at the moment living in lockdown means most children are at home with their parents.

As I look back and reflect and review over the last four months I am choosing to focus on the highlights, the particularly special times.

January

Early in January I went to the 100 stories book launch in West London. I hadn’t been on the train into London for four years, since my cancer diagnosis, and decided it was a perfect opportunity and reason to have an overnight city break with my husband.

While my husband was at work I spent time exploring Covent Garden and the British Museum and the area around it. In the evening we took the tube across London to go the Maggie’s Centre at Charing Cross Hospital. Maggie’s Centres provide support for people living with and beyond cancer in a ‘home’ environment. I’d never been to a Maggie’s Centre before and I was impressed. I’d never been to a book launch before either! Or written for a book…It was great to meet Helena, the author, and a few people from the cancer community who had also contributed. Like most people I’ve never wanted to be defined by my cancer experiences but in some ways it’s inevitable because it’s a part of my life, my journey and my story. The online cancer community is my tribe and one I am thankful for. Day or night there is (reciprocal) support if and when I need it.

At the end of January we had a great time when we visited family for a belated ‘Christmas/New Year’ get together.

February

Towards the end of February I went away to North Wales with one of my good friends. We had some amazing outings. The highlight was a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway through Snowdonia to Caernarfon. I love North Wales, the people and the incredible scenery; the beaches, snow covered mountains, streams, rivers and waterfalls. We also enjoyed coffees and meals out as well as evenings in around the stove with her daughter’s cats (we were cat and house sitting), the friendliest cats I’ve ever met. Bendigedig!

March

By the beginning of March it was clear that Covid19 was starting to become more widespread in the UK. I carried on with most planned activities for a while before deciding to stay at home apart from essential trips out and walks. I managed to spend some time meeting up with a few friends I hadn’t seen for a while and had mum and dad over for Sunday lunch before the lockdown. Good memories!

April

Because we couldn’t be with our family over Easter I found myself having more time to reflect on the Easter story.

We’ve adapted. Many of our regular activities are online now so we’ve been able to continue with a familiar routine and stay connected and meet with others online and on the phone. We’ve enjoyed remote meals with our family. I’m trying to ensure I’m as fit and healthy as possible by appreciating and enjoying good food and exercising (via YouTube). I am relaxing by baking, gardening, reading and writing. I am limiting how much news I expose myself to and when I expose myself to it. When I feel myself being drawn down I shift my focus. I am enjoying nature; birds, flowers, the lengthening days, warm sunshine, the moon and stars. I am thankful for those who care.

Life isn’t always easy. During these months I’ve had the usual migraines, aches and pains which are especially bad when I don’t pace myself as well as I should and also I’ve had the usual colds, infections, mishaps etc. There’s also been a lot of difficult news, and we’ve waited on tenterhooks as those known to us have been admitted to hospital. There’s been heartbreak and hope. Most people are pulling together and I’m thankful to all those who are playing their part, often quietly. Along with everyone else’s, many of our plans for this year have been cancelled or postponed: From the appointments at hospital to family celebrations and get togethers and holidays.

I find the long term and wider impact of this virus too much to think about. As it says in the Bible in Matthew 6 ‘…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own’.

If you are struggling to lift your gaze at the moment perhaps have a look at your camera roll and remember some of the good times you’ve had or start taking some photos to look back at in the future.

With love x

Our daily bread (part two)

We’re all different and have different ways of coping. One of the things that helps me is my Christian faith. However, I’ve had doubts and I’ve had questions. When I was on placement as part of my Masters and working with people living in extremely difficult circumstances I had so many questions and felt so unsettled that I sought help from a vicar trained to provide spiritual direction. She suggested this quote might help me:

‘Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer’ (Rilke, my emphasis).

Just over two years later, as I lay ill in a hospital bed on the oncology ward I realised all that really matters is love.

Without noticing it, I had lived into the answer I needed.

One thing that really helps me is to use the Lord’s prayer to ask for my daily bread, that is for my daily needs to be met.

These needs are different on different days.

On Saturday I relaxed by baking and then sitting in the garden. As I sat there with our dog lying on the grass next to me, I took in the blue sky and the blossom and the budding leaves. I enjoyed the warmth of the sun and I listened to the birds singing and buzzing insects. My needs were met.

Life is so strange at the moment. It’s really, really tough in many ways. Whether you have a faith or none, I hope your daily needs will be met.

With love x

Where’s your focus?

In these days of fear and uncertainty we’re seeing the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s focus on the good.

All around there are acts of care and kindness, of connection, acknowledging we need each other. Here in Suffolk many people are asking what can I do to help? People are using social media to come together to coordinate support for each other by, for example, keeping in touch and by running errands like going to the pharmacy or shop for vulnerable neighbours. Churches are running virtual groups and services and are offering both practical and prayer support. Cafes, pubs and restaurants are organising home deliveries. Entertainers and musicians are performing live online.

Where’s your focus?

Do you have stories of human connection, care and love to share? If so I’d love to read them.

Looking for lost civilisations

This morning I went for a walk on the country roads near my home . I’ve always loved being outside in nature, noticing the fauna and flora that is all around us.

When I was a child we would often go for walks on the Suffolk beaches, on the heathlands and in the woods, often with a picnic. Later when I became a mum I passed my passion for being outside on to my children. We went on a lot of walks but they were never ‘just’ walks. We’d hop, march, run and skip. We’d often sing and they learnt all the songs I’d learnt in the Brownie Guides … ‘Alice the camel’, ‘Bringing home my baby bumble bee’, ‘Fish and chips and vinegar’ We’d play ‘ I spy’, we’d go on bear hunts and we’d go on treasure hunts. Sometimes we were looking for real treasure (birds, feathers, flowers, colours, etc). Sometimes we were looking for imagined treasure (chests full of silver and gold). Sometimes we’d go in search of lost civilisations. One time we came across an imaginary Mayan temple right here in the Suffolk countryside.

On my walk this morning I noticed a lot of treasure all around. Birds, buds, wild flowers. Who doesn’t love spring time with its promise of new life? But this year it’s different isn’t it? We are living at a time when a lot of what we usually take for granted is threatened and life as we know it has been cancelled and curtailed at all levels, personal, national and global.

I’ve been thinking about those walks with my children. I’ve been thinking about our searches for lost civilisations. I’ve been wondering what the long term impact of coronavirus COVID-19 will be on our civilisation, on us. I’ve been wondering how we will be remembered. Will we be remembered for self sacrifice like the villagers of Eyam who in 1666 quarantined their village to stop the spread of the plague. Will we too be remembered for our shared sense of humanity? For our love?

The choice is ours.

This is some of the treasure I came across this morning