People wearing pink clothes

7 Tips to Help You Get Ready for Your First Breast Cancer Awareness Walk

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Every year, millions of people participate in walks and fun runs to raise funds and promote awareness for the disease that affects 1 in 8 women in the U.S. That includes many individuals with huge hearts who don’t consider themselves athletic and are wondering how they’ll make it through a 5K walk.

Sound like you? Relax! You’ve got this – but you need to do a little footwork first. Here’s how to get prepared for the main event.

Before You Start Training

Woman at a Doctor Appointment

#1. If You Have Health Concerns, Talk to Your Doctor First

Walking, running, and vigorous athletic exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, but make sure you’re healthy enough first. See your doctor before you hit the pavement if any of these apply to you:

  • It’s been a year or more since you’ve exercised regularly
  • You experience fainting or dizzy spells
  • You feel chest pain when you exert yourself
  • You have a heart condition (including high blood pressure)
  • You’re currently pregnant
  • You’re over 65 and don’t exercise regularly

#2. Proper Footwear is Essential

Man Picking Sport Footwear

Whether you walk or you run, you’ll need well-fitting athletic shoes that still have some life left in them. If you see holes in the lining, soles, or fabric of your old shoes, it’s time to ditch them for something new.

Your shoes should cradle your foot in comfort and provide good support – if your foot isn’t supported, neither is your back, your hips, your knees, or your neck. You don’t have to spend a lot of money: if you’re new to exercise, find an athletic store with clerks who can advise you on what shoe meets your needs and fits within your budget.

When You Start Training

Women Talking After Running

#3. Start Slowly

Don’t try to go from 0 - 100mph overnight. Ideally, you’ll have six to eight weeks to train, especially if you haven’t done anything athletic before. The longer the walk, the more time you’ll need to train.

If your event is one mile, you’ll need to be able to comfortably walk for about 20 minutes.

For 5K (three miles), you’ll need to be able to walk for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

For 10K (about six miles), you should be able to walk at least 90 minutes, continuously.

This is a sample training schedule for beginners (again, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program).

Week 1:

  • Focus on getting moving. Aim to walk at least 15 minutes, five days a week.

Week 2:

  • Gradually increase your time, while focusing on posture and technique.

Week 3:

  • In addition to increasing your time, increase the intensity, too. You should be able to comfortably carry on a conversation while exercising.

Week 4:

  • Concentrate on longer walks. If you’re training for a 10K, you should be able to walk for 60 minutes by this point.

Week 5:

  • Focus on a swift, speedy gait. That includes using your arms to help you move forward.

Week 6-8:

  • Each week, take brisk, but easy walks during the first four days. The fifth day should be a higher intensity, longer walk.

Event Day and Beyond

Senior Woman Looking in the Mirror With Her Daughter

#4. Dress for Success

Even in California, weather can be unpredictable, so dress in layers. If you have an early start time, you may find yourself feeling chilly at first – but you’ll definitely warm up once you get moving. Cotton t-shirts will soak up all your sweat and leave you feeling soggy, so opt for moisture-wicking synthetics instead. And don’t forget your head: a brimmed hat, sunglasses with UV protection, and sunscreen will help protect your skin and eyes from the sun.

#5. Stay Hydrated

Man Tying His Shoes

Drink lots of water, not sugary sports drinks or energy drinks. Some studies show a little caffeine before a workout can boost your athletic performance, but you’ll still need ample water to avoid dehydration. Even though there will most likely be water stops along the course, bring your own.

#6. Don’t Push Through the Pain

Woman Resting During Run

It’s natural to feel slight fatigue, soreness, or a little short of breath, but if you feel pain, STOP. If you don’t feel better after a few minutes of rest, seek care from medical stations at the event.

#7. Keep Up the Good Work

Senior Couple Exercising

After you finish your walk or run, don’t let all that hard work go to waste. Exercise is one of the best things you can do to reduce your breast cancer risks. You don’t have to do another 10K but keep moving every day.

Can’t Do a Walk? There are Other Ways to Show Your Support.

If you can’t participate in a breast cancer awareness walk, there are still many ways for you to support those you know with breast cancer. The biggest and best way is to be there for them and ask them how you can help.

And don’t forget to keep yourself healthy, too! Learn more about when to begin screening and how to cut your risks. At AltaMed, we’re here to support your health, at every age and every stage.

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See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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Woman with Pink Ribbon

Grow Pink, Grow Healthy: What You Need to Know About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in the United States. Even though it’s more common among Caucasian and African American women, it’s the leading cancer killer among Latinas. Here’s what you need to know so you can cut your breast cancer risks.

What Is Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer X-Ray

Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the breast grow out of control, forming a lump or a tumor. Once a mass is detected, a test called a biopsy is performed to tell if the mass is malignant (cancerous) or benign (not cancerous).

If the mass is benign, you’re out of the danger zone. If the cells are cancerous, they can spread to other parts of the body. Your doctors will help you make the best treatment decisions so you can start as soon as possible.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Group of Woman

Your lifestyle, along with many other factors, can increase your risk of breast cancer:

  • Being physically inactive
  • Beginning menopause at a late age
  • Being overweight, particularly after menopause
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Getting older
  • Having a genetic condition, such as certain mutations in your BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
  • Not having children or having your first child later in life
  • Personal history of breast cancer or certain benign breast diseases
  • Previous radiation therapy to the breast or chest
  • Starting your first menstrual period at an early age
  • Using hormone replacement therapy for a long time
  • Using oral contraceptives

What Are the Symptoms?

Woman with Cancer

In the early stages, the tumor may be too small to feel and does not cause any symptoms. As it grows, you may experience:

  • A new lump in the breast or a lump that has changed
  • A change in the shape or size of the breast
  • Pain in the nipple or breast that doesn’t go away
  • Swollen, red, or flaky skin on the breast
  • Nipple becomes tender or turns inward
  • Nipple leaks blood or non-milk fluid

Talk to your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

When and How to Get Tested

Doctor Doing a Mammography of Her Patient

According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, most women should start routine screenings for breast cancer at the age of 50 and continue once every two years until age 74, unless your doctor recommends otherwise. The screening is done with a mammogram, which takes digital images of the breast. It is the best and most reliable way to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before symptoms occur.

Catching it early is important – if cancer is caught in early stages and hasn’t spread to any other part of the body, there’s a 99% survival rate. So, get tested regularly to give yourself your best chance!

What About Self-Exams and Genetic Testing?

You may have heard about these methods – one very old-fashioned, the other high-tech – as ways to help identify cancer early, and you may be wondering if they’re right for you.

Breast self-exams used to be a common recommendation for women, but there has been some debate among doctors if these exams are really beneficial. Some doctors recommend that instead of self-examinations, women learn breast awareness: becoming familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel. If you look at the “What Are the Symptoms?” section earlier in this post, you’ll get a good idea for what to be aware of.

Genetic tests are another method that might not be conclusive for everyone. Genetic tests that look for mutations in certain genes can’t tell you if you have cancer; they only tell you how likely you might be to develop it at some point in your life. Even with a positive test result, you may never develop breast cancer at all. Genetic tests are usually only offered to women with a family history of breast cancer. You can still take the test, but it would not be covered by health insurance and could be quite expensive.

The bottom line is, if you are interested in either of these tests, your primary method of defense should still be working with your doctor and following their recommendations for screenings.

Take Action

Women Smiling and Running

No matter your age, you can help minimize your risk for breast cancer with a few simple healthy lifestyle changes.

  • Drink water regularly
  • Eat fresh and nutritious foods
  • Exercise regularly: in fact, if you’ve ever thought about doing an awareness walk, now is the time and AltaMed can help. Even beyond raising funds and awareness for the cause, participating in a walk or fun-run can help you launch your own set of cancer-fighting habits.
  • Get tested today
  • Keep stress levels as low as possible
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Maintain a healthy weight

We’re Here for You, Now More Than Ever

Grow Pink Graphic

Don’t let the fear of going out, stop you from coming in. At AltaMed, we want to ensure that our patients have the proper care and education to take charge of your health. Talk to your doctor about preventive care screenings, like mammograms. It is critical to your overall good health — so don’t wait.

AltaMed smart watches

6 Top Healthy Living Apps for Your Physical & Mental Well-Being

Looking to improve your health? Join the club! Actually, with today’s health apps, you don’t need to. There are more than 318,000 health apps available to help you manage your health. From making smart food choices to exercising, and getting better sleep, these apps help turn health goals into healthy habits. So, grab your water bottle and your smartphone, and check out these six apps that can help you take control of your health.

Omada Health

Available for iOS and Android; Price: free for AltaMed Patients in Orange County
Offers Spanish language option

Senior People in Yoga Class

Omada was created to help users lose weight and lower their risks of getting diabetes and heart disease. Omada provides the tools and support you need to succeed by helping you break up your health goals into small, easy steps. The app allows you to track your meals and activity/exercise, offers lessons on nutrition and stress, and connects you with a health coach to support and guide your progress. Plus, Omada gives AltaMed patients a valuable freebie: a smart scale that connects to the app.


Available for iOS, Android & Samsung; Price: $0
Offers Spanish language option

Girls Doing Exercise Outdoors

Using your phone’s built-in GPS, MapMyWalk tracks your daily walks and uses Google Maps to show you your route. It also collects and shows you your speed, distance, and calories burned. Receive audio updates on how you are doing while you walk, and use the website to see your history, make friends, join groups, and see how your friends are doing.

Pillow (Sleep Tracker)

Available for iOS; Price: $0, one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock premium features
Offers Spanish language option

Senior Couple Sleeping

This easy-to-use app provides detailed information about your sleep cycle to help you get more restful sleep. Simply place your phone on your mattress near your pillow while you sleep and Pillow will track your activity during the night. You can also analyze and record your sleep, heart rate, and audio events such as snoring, sleep talking, or sleep apnea.

Connect to Apple’s Health app to compare your sleep to other health measurements. Pillow’s intelligent alarm clock helps you wake up rested by waking you at the lightest sleep stage. The app comes with features that let you track your mood during the day, and gives you personalized recommendations. Premium features include unlimited access to your sleep history, nap modes, access to a large library of wake-up and sleep-aid programs and melodies, and the ability to export and download your data to use with other programs.

Fooducate (Nutrition & Health Tracker)

Available for iOS; Price: $0, various premium levels available starting at $1.99

Woman in a Fruit and Vegetables Stand

Not only does Fooducate let you track the foods you eat each day, but it educates you on healthy eating choices. The Fooducate app lets you input the foods you eat to learn about their nutritional value by scanning a barcode or searching the extensive database. The app also offers a daily stream of tips and articles to help motivate you on your food journey. Look through the archive of foods, check for top graded food choices, and set individual goals beyond weight loss. Fooducate can even send you a reminder on your phone to use it while you are shopping at the supermarket.

Instant Heart Rate+ HR Monitor

Available for iOS, Android & Windows Phone; Price: $4.99, various premium levels available starting at $3.99
Offers Spanish language option

Cell Phone Showing a Health App

Whether you’re just starting an exercise program or you’ve worked out for years, your heart rate is a good indicator of your fitness level. This straightforward heart rate app lets you discover your heart rate in 10 seconds or less. Just place the tip of your index finger on your phone’s camera and the app will detect color changes in your finger each time your heart beats. It then tells you your heart rate and puts the data in an easy-to-understand chart. Additional add-on features allow you to track heart health, access videos and motivational audio, and receive emails with tips on healthy living. Instant Heart Rate Monitor is used for research and trials by leading cardiologists, and is rated as the world’s best mobile heart rate measurement app.


Available for iOS; Price: $0, one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock premium features

Group of People Cheering Each Other

HabitList is designed to give you everything you need to set and reach your health goals, all wrapped up in a clear, direct format. Enter your goals and the app breaks everything down into clear steps by day and frequency to help you stay focused. The app helps you stay motivated by encouraging you to beat your own personal best at each repeated task, then rewarding you when you do. View trends over a period of time, create a flexible and personalized goal schedule, and easily check off your healthy to-do list.

New to Physical Fitness? Start Here First.

At AltaMed, we love that there are so many tools to help make it fun and easy for people to work on their health goals. But you may have different health needs, and not every activity will be right for you. If you’ve never exercised before or you have an existing health condition like diabetes or heart disease, talk to your doctor before you start a program. They can help you determine the best options for you.

We don’t have an app for that, but we do have a handy doctor search tool to help you find a doctor near you.

7 Tips to Help You Get Ready for Your First Breast Cancer Awareness Walk