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21 Days to Wellness

For Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we are taking the opportunity to encourage you to make small changes to enhance your overall well-being.

As maintaining a healthy and vibrant lifestyle is crucial for your quality of life (regardless of your prostate cancer diagnosis), we present below five health-beneficial behaviors. We invite you to consider which one you find most achievable to adopt in your daily routine over the next 21 days, at a time that suits you perfectly. Each of these behaviors is accompanied by additional information and practical tips to guide you in your journey and facilitate your choice.

Staying Active: Move to Live, Live to Move

Physical activity is essential throughout life, especially before, during, and after prostate cancer treatment.

It improves the management of this condition and plays a crucial role in preventing serious chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Furthermore, it promotes a healthy weight, enhances sleep quality, and strengthens the immune system, thereby increasing the body’s resilience against health challenges. Every step you take and every movement you choose gives you energy and brings you closer to overall well-being.

If you’re considering starting an exercise program, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional, especially if you have pre-existing health issues. Don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of a kinesiologist or physiotherapist to support you on your journey. For most individuals, engaging in physical activity before, during, and after cancer treatment is generally safe. If you’re unsure, consult your medical team for guidance.


COMMITMENT #1 : I commit to taking a 5-minute active break every hour to stand up, stretch, and move.

Modifiable Behavior : Prolonged sitting

To reduce sedentary behavior and avoid prolonged sitting, incorporate simple physical activities throughout the day. Take short active breaks every hour. Get creative in finding ways to move more in your daily routine. Of course, it might sound easier said than done, but let’s look at some basic principles below to guide you.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some practical tips:

  1. Use alarms on your phone, computer, or a simple timer to remind yourself to stand up and move every hour.

  2. When watching TV, use commercial breaks to stand up, walk around the room, or do some light exercises.

  3. Perform exercises like arm and leg stretches or neck rotations to stay active even while sitting.

  4. Take advantage of phone calls to stand up and walk around the room.

  5. Opt for parking spaces farther away to encourage a bit more walking.

  6. Whenever possible, choose stairs over the elevator. It’s an excellent way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.

  7. Taking the bus or subway? Get on one stop after your usual station or get off a bit before your destination, so you can walk part of the way.

  8. At work, consider walking meetings with colleagues or standing meetings.

  9. Explore activities that interest you: yoga, tai chi, swimming, dancing, water sports (kayaking, paddleboarding, etc.), hiking, cycling – the options are plentiful and there’s something for everyone!

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COMMITMENT #2 : I commit to gradually increasing the time I dedicate to physical activity up to 30 minutes per day.

Modifiable Behavior : Neglecting to incorporate exercise into your routine

According to all studies, it is recommended to include 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise, totaling 150 minutes per week, along with strength, flexibility, and balance exercises. By incorporating exercise into your daily routine, you strengthen your muscles, bones, and cardiovascular system, while also promoting the release of endorphins that improve your mood and reduce stress. Of course, it might sound easier said than done, but let’s look at some basic principles below to guide you.

Not sure where to start?

  1. Seize Opportunities to Move: Even if you’re not an athlete, you can integrate exercise into your daily life. For instance, choose walking or biking for short trips instead of using your car, like fetching your mail, visiting the local store, or going to a friend’s house a few blocks away.

  2. Identify Meaningful Activities: Make a list of activities that matter to you. Can you include them in the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity. Examples could be:
    • Playing in the pool with your grandchildren.
    • Participating in a charity 5k walk next fall.
    • Being able to climb stairs independently.
  3. Set Goals: Ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish in the next 21 days? Start with smaller goals leading up to your main objective. For instance:
      • Begin by walking 20 minutes three times a week.
      • Gradually increase to walking 30 minutes four times a week.
      • Ultimate Goal: Aim for 30 minutes of daily physical activity while incorporating strength training exercises at least twice a week. Don’t forget to allocate a few minutes for stretching before and after exercising to warm up and relax your muscles.
  4. Individual or Group Activities: Do you prefer solo or group activities? If group activities interest you, reach out to local organizations, recreation centers, and community clubs to see what’s available. You might be surprised by the variety of programs offered.

  5. Gradual and Regular Routine: Plan a suitable, gradual, and consistent physical activity regimen. Even if you feel tired, untrained, older, or heavier, remember that every effort, no matter how small, contributes to building a path towards renewed well-being.
    • Start Slowly: Begin gently and gradually increase the duration and/or intensity of your efforts.
    • Embrace Progress: Every little step towards physical activity is a significant stride forward.
    • Believe in yourself and dare to move more than yesterday!

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Additional Resources

    1. The M.O.V.E. 50+ Program: Designed for individuals aged 50 and over by kinesiologists, this simple and quick tool will guide you in choosing an exercise program tailored to your physical condition, ensuring a safe and enjoyable practice. For example, here are some exercises shown in images.
    2. The SAFE program (senior adult fitness exercises) Another straightforward tool adapted to your needs. While aimed at seniors, this program can help anyone with a sedentary lifestyle or who is affected by prostate cancer treatments, such as fatigue, lack of energy, etc.

COMMITMENT #3: I commit to engaging in strength training exercises twice a week.

Modifiable Behavior: Neglecting muscle work

Incorporating two strength training sessions per week promotes muscle growth, enhances posture and stability, strengthens bones, and helps prevent injuries and fractures. It also contributes to boosting metabolism, thereby supporting weight loss and weight management. Of course, while this might seem straightforward, let’s delve into some basic concepts below to guide you.

Not sure where to start? Here are some examples of simple exercises that can be integrated into a weekly routine to help strengthen muscles, improve strength and mobility, and contribute to an active and healthy lifestyle. Stretching helps maintain flexibility and prevent muscle stiffness.

  1. Stand with your back against the wall, then slowly lower yourself by bending your knees as if you were sitting on an invisible chair. Hold the position for a few seconds, then stand up. This exercise works the muscles of the legs and buttocks.

  2. Sit on a chair with your back straight. Extend one leg in front of you at hip height, then slowly lower it. Repeat the movement for each leg. This strengthens the muscles of the thighs.

  3. Stand with a water bottle in each hand. Slowly raise your arms to the sides until they are horizontal, then lower them. This exercise works the shoulders.

  4. Sit on a chair, hold a water bottle in one hand, and bend your elbow to 90 degrees. Slowly extend your arm in front of you, then bend it again. This strengthens the arm muscles.

  5. Stand, then slowly raise your heels off the floor while standing on your toes. Lower gently. This strengthens the calves.

You can also do strength training exercises with bands, dumbbells (weights, water bottles, canned goods), alone, in a group, or online by watching pre-recorded videos.

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COMMITMENT #4: I commit to increasing the intensity of my physical activity at least once a week.

Modifiable behavior: Not increasing activity intensity

Increasing the demand of your activity in terms of intensity is important because staying at a low or constant intensity level can lead to a plateau in health benefits. By gradually increasing the intensity of your physical activities, you challenge your body and muscles, leading to better results, improved physical fitness, and an increased metabolism. Of course, this may sound simple to say, but let’s explore some basic principles below to guide you.

Not sure where to begin? To avoid unnecessary risk, the resumption of activities should be gradual, followed by an increase in intensity.

  • You must first and foremost consider your current physical condition or the one you had before the illness.
  • Before increasing the intensity of an activity, start by incorporating 30 minutes of activity per day, followed by muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week.
  • Listen to your body! It will tell you if you’re doing too much or not enough.

Here are some simple examples to increase the intensity of your physical activities:

  • If you walk regularly, try increasing your speed for a few minutes to elevate your heart rate.
  • Opt for stairs instead of the elevator, or climb the stairs at a brisker pace.
  • If you’re comfortable running, incorporate intervals where you accelerate for a short period, followed by a slower recovery.
  • If you walk or bike, choose routes that include uphill sections to work your muscles more.
  • If you do strength training exercises, gradually increase the number of repetitions or the duration of sessions.
  • If you do resistance exercises with light weights, try increasing the weight to create additional resistance.
  • Try more intense activities like swimming, cycling, or aqua aerobics to diversify your routine.

If you’ve been treated for prostate cancer or are undergoing treatment:

  • Consult your surgeon. He will advise you on the appropriate time to resume the program you were practicing before the surgery and the level of intensity you should engage in.
  • If you are undergoing treatment, discuss with your doctor the type and level of activities you could integrate into your daily routine.
  • Seek a referral to a healthcare professional such as a kinesiologist or physiotherapist to help you establish an exercise plan, including Kegel exercises if needed.
  • In all cases, start with walking, gradually increasing your distance and duration over time.

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COMMITMENT #5: I commit to incorporating flexibility and balance exercises twice a week.

Modifiable behavior: Forgetting to diversify physical activities.

Incorporating flexibility and balance exercises into your routine is important, as it can improve your range of motion, reduce the risk of muscle and joint injuries, promote better posture and coordination, and help maintain optimal mobility as you age. Of course, this may sound simple to say, but let’s explore some basic concepts below to guide you.

Here are some examples of balance exercises you could integrate into your routine:

  • Walk slowly, placing the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot with each step. This helps improve balance while strengthening leg muscles.
  • Stand on one foot and place the sole of the other foot against the inner thigh of the standing leg. Balance for a few breaths, then switch legs. Stand on one foot, bend the other knee, and grab your ankle with the same side hand.
  • Maintain balance while holding this position for a few moments, then alternate legs.
  • Stand against a wall, slide your feet forward, and bend your knees as if you were sitting on an invisible chair. Hold the position for a few breaths.
  • Walk along a straight line (like a tile seam) by placing the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot with each step. Slowly lift your heels off the ground while standing, then gently lower them. Repeat the exercise several times to strengthen your ankle muscles. Attempt to balance on one foot with your eyes closed for a few moments. This enhances your sense of balance.

Here are some examples of flexibility and stretching exercises you could integrate into your routine:

  • Neck Stretch: Gently tilt your head to one side to stretch your neck, holding each stretch for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  • Shoulder Stretch: Extend one arm in front of you at chest height, bend the elbow, and use the other hand to gently push your elbow toward the center of your body. Repeat on the other side.
  • Back Stretch: Sit with your legs extended, bend one leg and cross it over the other. Twist your torso toward the bent leg, using your opposite arm to help maintain the stretch. Switch sides and repeat.
  • Thigh Stretch: Stand up, bend one leg backward, and grab your ankle with your hand. Gently pull your heel toward your buttocks to feel the stretch in the front of your thigh. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Calf Stretch: Stand near a wall, place one foot forward, and slightly bend the knee. Keep the other leg extended behind you and gently push the heel toward the ground to stretch the calf. Switch legs and repeat.

Ensure you perform these stretches slowly and gently, without forcing. If you experience sharp or persistent pain, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional.

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Sources and references

Written by PROCURE. 2023 © All rights reserved.

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