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Weekly Blog: Incidental Exercise

Community Manager
Community Manager
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By Tim Baker

Those of us on hormone therapy probably don’t need reminding that exercise is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, for its many benefits: improved cardio-vascular health, bone density, muscle mass and mood, all compromised by hormone therapy (Androgen Deprivation Therapy).

But, we also don’t need reminding that it is often one of the hardest things to achieve, given ADT’s attendant fatigue. What to do? One solution is to have supervised exercise with a qualified trainer, an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist, who can motivate you and tailor training to suit your needs and health. But cost and access may be an issue for some men.

Another thing I’ve tried to do is build “incidental exercise” into my days. This is exercise that you do just as you go about your day, rather than a formal exercise session. There are a few different ways I try and build exercise into my days, but the possibilities are virtually endless, based on your circumstances and environment.

  1. Consider shunning the lift (especially wise in these COVID times) and tackle a few flights of stairs. I often do this when I visit my oncologist. He’s on the second floor so it’s a brisk little way to get my heart rate up and get that delicious burning in the thigh muscles.
  2. This has been a minor revelation for me. I’ve relieved myself of the pressure of trying to find a parking spot as close as possible to my destination, and will often take the first available spot that requires a short walk to where I’m heading. Less stress, fewer parking tickets, and a quick stroll to get some air in the lungs and get the joints working. Walking with a bit of swagger, setting a pace and swinging the arms, can be a really useful bit of exercise throughout your day. We are, after all, machines designed for walking. You can take this further by questioning when you need to take a car at all and whether a substantial walk might be a better option.
  3. Lifting stuff. This can take a lot of different forms and needs to be done with a careful consideration of your physical conditions, not straining the back or any other areas that might be prone to injury. But, for example, if you’re doing a supermarket shop for just a few items, use a basket rather than a trolley and get a bit of arm work in while gathering your provisions. If someone else has done the shopping offer to carry it in from the car. Hang out and bring in the washing from the clothesline. This has the added benefit of pleasing the person who might otherwise have performed these domestic tasks, earning valuable brownie points that might be redeemed for some more pleasurable pursuits. Gardening can often include a bit of lifting – bags of mulch, pot plants, wielding a shovel or rake. Which leads to …
  4. Put away the leaf blower. Not only will you be doing humanity a favour and offering anyone who doesn’t appreciate their deafening noise the defence of “justifiable homicide”, you’ll be able to enjoy a brisk cardio workout and a bit of upper body strength training. Grab aforementioned rake, carefully rake leaves or other garden refuse into a pile and then lift it into your green waste bin. Bingo. Task completed and exercise benefits logged.
  5. This offers the same fringe benefit as the above points. A good friend of mine used to refer to housework as “chore play”, although many of us on ADT might struggle to take full advantage of its benefits. But there are other, less erotic benefits. As author Kathy Lette once wrote, “No woman has ever murdered her husband while he’s doing the vacuuming”.
  6. Joyful exercise. It’s important to find sources of exercise that don’t feel like a chore. The best exercise is the one you will do on a regular basis. I got lucky with surfing, which has been a potent source of joy since I was 11 years old, but it could be almost anything. Bushwalking, swing dancing, yoga, circus training. The possibilities are endless. What’s that sport or physical activity you’ve always secretly wished you’d pursued? Now’s the time to indulge yourself.
  7. Exercise “snacking”. There used to be this idea that you had to do at least 20 minutes of exercise to get a benefit, but exercise physiologists are now extolling the virtues of “exercise snacking” throughout our days. According to this theory, even a couple of minutes of short, sharp exertion, enough to get your heart rate up and/or muscles fatigued, sprinkled over the course of your day can give great benefit. This could be a quick weights session, push-ups, sit-ups, or whatever your regular exercise routine might be, condensed into several short sharp bursts that might feel like less of a chore than one longer session. Get yourself a couple of hand weights and use them while watching TV. If you want to invest in more elaborate exercise equipment the best option, again, is the one you’ll use most often, positioned in a place where you pass it in your regular movements about the house.

There are, of course, (as they say in the classics) many ways to skin a cat and many of us have developed our own exercise hacks. For those who have, I’d love to hear about them. A sedentary lifestyle is our enemy. Whatever it takes, get moving and keep moving.

About the Author



Tim Baker is an award-winning author, journalist and storyteller specialising in surfing history and culture, working across a wide variety of media from books and magazines to film, video, and theatre. Some of his most notable books include “Occy”, a national bestseller and chosen by the Australia Council as one of “50 Books You can’t Put Down” in 2008, and “The Rip Curl Story” which documents the rise of the iconic Australian surf brand to mark its 50th anniversary in 2019. Tim is a former editor of Tracks and Surfing Life magazines. He has twice won the Surfing Australia Hall of Fame Culture Award.

Tim was diagnosed with stage 4, metastatic prostate cancer in 2015 with a Gleason score 9. He was told he had just five years of reasonable health left, but seven years on, at 57, he’s still surfing, writing, and enjoying being a dad. His latest book, Patting The Shark, also documents his cancer journey and will be published in August. Tim will be sharing weekly insights into his journey to help other men who have also been impacted by prostate cancer.

Help is Available

Prostate Cancer Specialist Telenursing Service

If your life has been impacted by prostate cancer, our Specialist Telenursing Service is available to help. If you would like to reach out to the PCFA Prostate Cancer Specialist Telenurse Service for any questions you have about your prostate cancer experience, please phone 1800 22 00 99 Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm, Wednesday 10am-8pm (AEDT).

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