Michigan Breast Cancer Survivor Relies on Running to Regain Health

Running has many benefits. From reducing the risk of heart disease to burning calories and strengthening bones. It’s also great for your mental health. 

For some – like Huntington Woods resident Ellyn Davidson – exercise can even serve as a lifeline when battling a serious health condition. 

“When I run it’s all about me,” said Davidson, who credits running for changing her life after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36. “That’s my time.” 

Life-changing exercise 

Davidson believes that preserving your physical and mental health becomes particularly important as you age. 

For her, that meant lacing up her running shoes and hitting the pavement. “I started running to make sure I stayed healthy. I just want to keep my body injury-free and take care of my body, and just keep going,” Davidson said to Ann Marie Wakula. “At my peak, I was running six days a week, 25 to 30 miles a week.”  

Wakula is the host of the Fitness Over 40 series, brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The three-minute videos feature tips and mini workouts people can incorporate into their daily lives, even at home.   

First marathon 

Davidson ran her first marathon about 18 months after she began running.  

“Being part of those events is just amazing,” she said. “There’s just so much camaraderie and spirit. It’s magical.” 

If you want to start running, Wakula recommends alternating between running and walking as you build up endurance. 

“To begin, the experts say take it slow, run for 10 to 30 seconds, and then walk for one to two minutes and repeat,” Wakula said. “As you improve, shorten your walking time and increase your running time.” 

In Davidson’s experience, some days are more difficult than others while out for a run. “There’s moments during a run when you feel like stopping, when it’s hard,” Davidson said. “Like any other form of exercise, you have good days and bad days. That’s just part of the program.”

Davidson said it’s OK to feel fatigued. She recommends still getting out there on your “bad days,” but scaling back your intensity level. Eventually, your stamina will be where you want it to be on a consistent basis.

“You can run a block, walk a block, just get out there and do something,” she said. “Do it long enough and it’ll stick, and it gets easier and easier.”

For those who want to try running but don’t know where to start, there are many apps and online resources that can help. Check out the Fitness Over 40 series for workouts you can do without leaving home.


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