The benefits of regular exercise and overall healthy habits have long been prescribed for those seeking a higher quality of living. Exercise can be particularly beneficial to anyone dealing with the various stages of cancer. Whether presently undergoing treatment, having completed treatment or in remission; proper exercise can help strengthen your body inside and out and foster a more positive and healthy body image.
Guidelines for exercise published in the July 2010 Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggested adaptations for those with varying cancer types. Factors such as risk of bone fractures and cardiac side effects were listed as concerns that should be considered when choosing an exercise program.
Rigorous workouts are probably the last thing you would welcome while enduring the oftentimes exhausting ordeal of chemotherapy. For patients fatigued by treatment regimen, lower intensity exercises can help regain strength and energy as well as normalize your appetite. An article in Livestrong.com, February 20, 2011, suggests that exercise triggers the brain to increase the body’s appetite. The brain will recognize the need to refuel in order to perform regular activities. The increased appetite will counter the side-effects of chemotherapy.
Other important benefits of an exercise routine during the various stages of cancer include improving one’s body image. While treatment of cancer can lead to body changes – either through surgery or the decrease of muscle mass from other forms of treatment – working your muscles will enable patients to regain strength and muscle tone to counter what has been lost through treatment. Particularly for patients battling mesothelioma, often bed rest is prescribed as part of treatment and recovery. Moving and flexing muscles can counter the joint stiffness and muscle loss that can result from being immobile during healing. Patients can work their muscles and flex their joints without placing an overly taxing stress on the lungs by stretching or taking short walks.
As important to some of the biological benefits of exercise is the added moral boost that comes with including regular workouts to a weekly routine. Aside from being a welcomed respite from the consuming concerns of the disease, exercise can relieve stress and help assuage the fear and anxiety that can all-to-often dominate a patient’s daily thoughts. The added bonus of a fitter, better-looking body can also improve the patient’s mood and serve as mental fortification for upcoming treatments.
Exercise, when chosen with a patient’s specific circumstance in mind, can have numerous and immeasurable benefits. Choosing the right program and reaping the benefits to be had can be a positive addition to anyone’s battle plan against cancer.
NCI Cancer Bulletin; July 29, 2010 http://www.cancer.gov/ncicancerbulletin/062910/page5
“How Exercise Can Help Mesothelioma Patients”, mikefitnesschallenge.com; Feb. 20, 2011 https://mikesfitnesschallenge.com/importance-exercise-mesothelioma-patients/