Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Relationship between exercise and cancer

Liz MacGregor. Photo: Mark Blacknell
Liz MacGregor of FABB wrote an excellent article in Today's Washington Post Health Section: Exercise may decrease cancer recurrence; it can also give you a mental edge. Liz bike commutes into DC from Vienna on a regular basis. She battled breast cancer a few years ago and exercise is part of her recovery regime. Here's an excerpt:
Almost four years have passed since I finished chemotherapy, and I am still cancer-free. (I am taking a five-year course of tamoxifen, which blocks the effects of certain hormones, to help prevent a recurrence.) Riding has continued to be a refuge and an inspiration to challenge myself. I ride about 600 miles per month, most of it commuting. I have completed several centuries (100-mile rides) and a few local events. Last fall, I was certified as an instructor by the League of American Bicyclists, which means I can teach beginners and cyclists wishing to improve their traffic riding skills. My husband and I are also training our son’s Boy Scout troop for a four-day, 187-mile bike ride on the C&O Canal towpath this summer.

I’ve realized my goal when I started bike commuting. By using my bike to get groceries, go to and from work and do many other things I need to do, I can maintain my fitness while going about my life. My well-being is the priority it always should have been.

I have a well-rehearsed answer when someone asks, “Is it safe?” Eighty-five percent of my commute is on a protected trail or bike lane. After all these years, the urban drivers and I know each other well and have long since made peace with our imperfect coexistence.

But really, I just want to reply, “How is it safe not to?” I’m a human being, a living creature. I wasn’t meant to be passive. I was meant to be out in the world, to move, to power up a hill panting, to go flying down the other side as if ready to take flight. To feel the hot sun beating down on my back, to gingerly brace myself against a fierce crosswind on a dark, frigid night. To overcome the tedium of thousands of pedal strokes over the same route, day after day, by making it transcendent. To do more than exist — to live.

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