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Building a habit for life

At age 43 I was extremely busy but not very active, when my breast cancer diagnosis arrived. I undertook the whole range of treatment they threw at me. Acute symptoms of menopause aged me overnight. Sore ankle joints, hot flushes, insomnia, depression and anxiety were constant sources of discomfort to me.

In an attempt at self-help, I attended a Cancer Council series of workshops on ‘Life after Cancer’. There were other women in the group who were travelling the same road as me, which was a consolation. Setting goals, small, realistic and achievable objectives, was the greatest resource that I took away with me and continue to use. I decided to focus on exercise and losing weight, the latter being another result of the chemotherapy.

To begin with, I started walking a couple of times a week. Then at a neighbourhood gathering, I discovered that Sandy who lives two doors down the road, was walking regularly in the same direction. We both made a small change to our starting time and now walk together.

That was four years ago and we now walk five mornings a week, 30 minutes up and down hills, rain or shine, with a change of direction on two of the days.

My strong recommendation for anyone wanting to make a lasting habit of exercise is to get a buddy. To begin with, not wanting to let your buddy down can keep you going until motivation kicks in. Motivation comes when the benefits, and there are many, are truly realised.

Jenny, SA