Five Tips for Staying Active this Winter

Staying active during the winter months can be difficult. Weather, packed holiday schedules, and fewer daylight hours can often get in the way of a regular fitness routine. For some cancer patients, lack of energy and a weakened immune system can also make it difficult to leave the house and stay active.

fitness

Nancy Campbell, MS

But staying in shape doesn’t always have to mean heading to the gym or a fitness class. There are many exercises that can be done at home and adjusted to fit any skill or strength level.

Nancy Campbell, MS, an exercise physiologist with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, provides tips for staying active this winter:

1. Try exercise videos
There are countless DVDs and videos featuring a wide range of workouts that can be done at home. Many of these videos can be rented at the public library or viewed for free using websites like YouTube. For anyone who is just starting a fitness routine, especially cancer patients, Campbell recommends “walking workout” videos that involve marching in place for varying distances or amounts of time.

 2. Incorporate household items into a workout
Exercising doesn’t necessarily need to involve machines or weights at the gym. Try walking up and down stairs, or up and down just two stairs at a time. Push-ups are also an easy way to build strength and can be done on the knees or off of a wall or coffee table. For more strength training, Campbell suggests using soup cans in place of dumbbells.

 3. Find a buddy
Sometimes it can be difficult to get motivated during the winter months. Campbell recommends finding an exercise buddy. Try going for walks together either outside or in a mall if it’s too cold. Your buddy can also be someone who checks in with you to make sure you’re sticking to a fitness routine.

 4. Make “activity dates”
The winter months are often filled with meet-ups with friends and family who are visiting for the holidays or taking time off. Instead of meeting for dinner or drinks, Campbell recommends making “activity dates” like walking, hiking, snowshoeing, or trying a new yoga studio.

 5. Monitor activity and set goals
Campbell encourages anyone who is starting a fitness routine to set goals and work slowly toward them. This could be a simple commitment to exercise three days a week, or a larger goal like a charity walk or 5K. To keep track of progress, Campbell recommends using a pedometer or fitness-tracking smartphone apps. Friends can also compare numbers in a friendly competition, which can help keep up motivation.

Learn more about exercise classes and consults for cancer patients and survivors through Dana-Farber’s Adult Survivorship Program. 

Comments Sort By Newest

11 thoughts on “Five Tips for Staying Active this Winter

  1. Exercising in the winter? That is a though one. Think of it as a treat. Yes, a treat to yourself. After a grueling schedule of chemo and radiation and who knows how many more to come, you deserve to give your body a treat. You deserve to give your body a best possible strength to recover and to strive. So no matter the weather get up and go see Nancy and the other women who will give you encouragement and challenge you to keep going. Yes! I am going to get a treat today even though it is 10F outside.

  2. I’ve found sticking with an exercise routine to be very tough. Fatigue and pain often convince me that I’m better off sitting… BUT when I do exercise regularly my pain and fatigue gets so much better. So even though I know that I feel so much better when I exercise, sometimes I struggle to get myself going. I have to remind myself that the exercise makes a big difference in my symptoms and rely on some external accountability. I am so grateful to Nancy Campbell, who has encouraged me to join in DFCI sponsored strengthening classes, and to my sports clubs for cancer survivors (Wellness Warriors and WeCanRow Boston) for helping me get off the couch and feel better. I’ve used all of Nancy’s suggestions above (wii fit at home, fitbit pedometer, classes, friendly competitions). They all work to stay active through my chronic pain issues. Every single time I abandon my workout regimen I have worsening pain. You’d think knowing that would be enough to keep me motivated but the reality is that I need more. Thank you to Nancy for helping me stay on track to feeling better.

  3. Why do I exercise? There are many days when I awake and think do I really want to put on all those clothes and get myself to the gym? And the answer is invariably yes…I love the teachers and the comraderie of the class. The sequence and repetition of exercises from warmups to cool downs always makes me feel good. And the special individual attention given to each of us during the class makes it all possible. And the music is great. There were many things I could not control during treatments but this I can keep healthy so I go and always feel better after! I recently participated in a Brain Tumor walk and surprised myself by doing three miles…thanks to exercising! Thank you Nancy Campbell, DFCI and Bodyscapes!

  4. The motivation for exercising in the winter is for me, definitely about having a group to go work out with. In the warmer weather, I find it’s so much easier to just put on my sneakers and go for a walk. Cold weather is much more difficult to overcome. The thing that gets me moving is a class I take with Nancy Campbell twice a week at the Bodyscapes gym. I get up and go because I know I’m going to love the class, and feel better afterwards. And I’ll be glad to see the friends I’ve made, who are also cancer survivors and trying to get stronger and healthier. So it’s having commitment to that group that keeps me coming back. Recently I’ve begun participating in another group, which is a Hatha Yoga class at the Dana Farber Yawkey Center. I’ve never done yoga before, but this class is fabulous, and I’ll keep going back. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to participate in these classes. It’s making a huge change in my fitness, my health, and my life.

  5. Having a scheduled class helps motivate me to get out of the house instead of staying in bed. Once I’m there, it’s easy!
    The exercise helps me be as strong as possible, which helps me bounce back from chemo. Having the best quality of life while living with cancer us a strong motivator.

  6. What keeps me motivated? Knowing that exercise is as important as my daily dose of tamoxifen. Through Nancy Campbell and the generosity of Bodyscapes Longwood, I have been able to add 120 minutes of cardiovascular exercise to my fitness regime making it very easy to exceed the 180 minute recommdation.

    Thank you, Nancy, DFCI, and Bodyscapes Longwood for keeping me healthy.

  7. I participate in the exercise class for women patients/survivors led by Nancy Campbell. The camaraderie and upbeat atmosphere, despite what we are going through or have gone through is very inspiring. Having a scheduled class motivates me to get out of the house, even when I’d rather stay in bed.
    The exercise helps push me to be the strongest I can be. I believe that it helps me bounce back better from my monthly chemo treatments to improve my quality of life while I live with cancer.

  8. Well I am in my 3rd year of recovering from Pancreatic cancer and exercise continues to be critical to my life. In the moments when I think…’well maybe I can skip today’…I focus on what I feel like after completing my exercise program…which is usually more relaxed. In addition, I try to consistently do some exercise…which may not be my entire exercise list for that day. The results are generally, when I get my ‘glutes’ moving to the exercise room…I usually do most if not all my exercises.

  9. How do I stay motivated to exercise during the winter months? Ummm. Although I’d rather stay snug as a bug tucked inside a quilt or two, remote at hand, I have the good fortune of attending Nancy Campbell’s Dana-Farber exercise class. It meets 2x/week at Bodyscapes/Longwood, and, in addition to Nancy’s knowledge and dedication, there are usually 2 local college students who help, and who guide me & my classmates, all female cancer survivors, through an hour long routine. It works & I couldn’t find a better group of buddies!

  10. I try to attend Nancy C’s exercise class whenever possible. Knowing how much better I feel after each session (clearer/less stiff/energized) motivates me to brave the cold winter weather – not to mention layers of clothing – to attend. The class is always welcoming!

  11. I try to attend Nancy C’s exercise class whenever possible. Knowing how much better I feel after each session (clearer/less stiff/energized) motivates me to brave the cold winter weather – not to mention layers of clothing – to attend. The class is always welcoming!

  12. How do I stay motivated to exercise during the winter months? Ummm. Although I’d rather stay snug as a bug tucked inside a quilt or two, remote at hand, I have the good fortune of attending Nancy Campbell’s Dana-Farber exercise class. It meets 2x/week at Bodyscapes/Longwood, and, in addition to Nancy’s knowledge and dedication, there are usually 2 local college students who help, and who guide me & my classmates, all female cancer survivors, through an hour long routine. It works & I couldn’t find a better group of buddies!

  13. Well I am in my 3rd year of recovering from Pancreatic cancer and exercise continues to be critical to my life. In the moments when I think…’well maybe I can skip today’…I focus on what I feel like after completing my exercise program…which is usually more relaxed. In addition, I try to consistently do some exercise…which may not be my entire exercise list for that day. The results are generally, when I get my ‘glutes’ moving to the exercise room…I usually do most if not all my exercises.

  14. I participate in the exercise class for women patients/survivors led by Nancy Campbell. The camaraderie and upbeat atmosphere, despite what we are going through or have gone through is very inspiring. Having a scheduled class motivates me to get out of the house, even when I’d rather stay in bed.
    The exercise helps push me to be the strongest I can be. I believe that it helps me bounce back better from my monthly chemo treatments to improve my quality of life while I live with cancer.

  15. What keeps me motivated? Knowing that exercise is as important as my daily dose of tamoxifen. Through Nancy Campbell and the generosity of Bodyscapes Longwood, I have been able to add 120 minutes of cardiovascular exercise to my fitness regime making it very easy to exceed the 180 minute recommdation.

    Thank you, Nancy, DFCI, and Bodyscapes Longwood for keeping me healthy.

  16. Having a scheduled class helps motivate me to get out of the house instead of staying in bed. Once I’m there, it’s easy!
    The exercise helps me be as strong as possible, which helps me bounce back from chemo. Having the best quality of life while living with cancer us a strong motivator.

  17. The motivation for exercising in the winter is for me, definitely about having a group to go work out with. In the warmer weather, I find it’s so much easier to just put on my sneakers and go for a walk. Cold weather is much more difficult to overcome. The thing that gets me moving is a class I take with Nancy Campbell twice a week at the Bodyscapes gym. I get up and go because I know I’m going to love the class, and feel better afterwards. And I’ll be glad to see the friends I’ve made, who are also cancer survivors and trying to get stronger and healthier. So it’s having commitment to that group that keeps me coming back. Recently I’ve begun participating in another group, which is a Hatha Yoga class at the Dana Farber Yawkey Center. I’ve never done yoga before, but this class is fabulous, and I’ll keep going back. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to participate in these classes. It’s making a huge change in my fitness, my health, and my life.

  18. Why do I exercise? There are many days when I awake and think do I really want to put on all those clothes and get myself to the gym? And the answer is invariably yes…I love the teachers and the comraderie of the class. The sequence and repetition of exercises from warmups to cool downs always makes me feel good. And the special individual attention given to each of us during the class makes it all possible. And the music is great. There were many things I could not control during treatments but this I can keep healthy so I go and always feel better after! I recently participated in a Brain Tumor walk and surprised myself by doing three miles…thanks to exercising! Thank you Nancy Campbell, DFCI and Bodyscapes!

  19. I’ve found sticking with an exercise routine to be very tough. Fatigue and pain often convince me that I’m better off sitting… BUT when I do exercise regularly my pain and fatigue gets so much better. So even though I know that I feel so much better when I exercise, sometimes I struggle to get myself going. I have to remind myself that the exercise makes a big difference in my symptoms and rely on some external accountability. I am so grateful to Nancy Campbell, who has encouraged me to join in DFCI sponsored strengthening classes, and to my sports clubs for cancer survivors (Wellness Warriors and WeCanRow Boston) for helping me get off the couch and feel better. I’ve used all of Nancy’s suggestions above (wii fit at home, fitbit pedometer, classes, friendly competitions). They all work to stay active through my chronic pain issues. Every single time I abandon my workout regimen I have worsening pain. You’d think knowing that would be enough to keep me motivated but the reality is that I need more. Thank you to Nancy for helping me stay on track to feeling better.

  20. Exercising in the winter? That is a though one. Think of it as a treat. Yes, a treat to yourself. After a grueling schedule of chemo and radiation and who knows how many more to come, you deserve to give your body a treat. You deserve to give your body a best possible strength to recover and to strive. So no matter the weather get up and go see Nancy and the other women who will give you encouragement and challenge you to keep going. Yes! I am going to get a treat today even though it is 10F outside.

Comments are closed.

Make An Appointment

For adults: 877-960-1562

Quick access: Appointments as soon as the next day for new adult patients

For children: 888-733-4662

All content in these blogs is provided by independent writers and does not represent the opinions or advice of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or its partners.

Latest Tweets

Dana-Farber @danafarber
Dr. Matthew Davids explores combining ibrutinib with FCR (iFCR) for younger patients with previously-untreated chro… https://t.co/wzVpo47tSa
Dana-Farber @danafarber
“We’re changing the way people are cared for, through #precisionmedicine, precision care, and a total team approach… https://t.co/RnZXsH2rW8
Dana-Farber @danafarber
Cell-weighing method could help doctors choose #cancer drugs: https://t.co/YesjtyxIvR via @MIT https://t.co/0F7wsZSuLJ

Republish our posts on your blog

Interested in sharing one of our stories on your blog? Feel free to republish this content! We just ask that you credit Dana-Farber, link to the original article, and refrain from making edits that change the original context. Questions? Email the editors at insight_blog@dfci.harvard.edu.