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Monday, January 30, 2012

Guest Post: The Benefits of Physical Activity During Cancer Treatment

I admit it, I hate exercise. I don't find it fun or stress releasing and the best part of exercise for me is when it's over. Yet long before my cancer diagnosis, I knew that exercise and a healthy diet are important to everyone's lifestyle, so I pushed myself to workout even when I didn't want to. Ironically about a year before I was diagnosed, I was probably the healthiest I had ever been, I was working out 4-5 times a week and eating more fruits and veggies than I ever had before. It was kind of cruel that just when I thought I was so healthy, I found out I had cancer. Yet, I was determined to not let cancer take my life away from me, and that included keeping up my exercise routine of kickboxing and spin classes. The Monday after my first chemo treatment I was back in spin class, sure that I could continue my workouts throughout my entire treatment. It worked for a while but slowly I got weaker and weaker and was forced to scale back. I even tried a swimming class last March as a way to have a low impact workout, but it was hard to keep up and I felt like my body was failing me. Before I knew it, I hadn't worked out in almost a year. So a few weeks ago after my recent setback, I realized that despite everything I've been through, I AM still stronger then I was last year. I want to have some form of control with my health and exercise helps me feel like I am making a difference. Yeah I still hate it and I'm shocked by how out of shape I am, but it feels good to push my body (not too hard!) and to feel like I am getting stronger, even though I'm still undergoing treatment.

Recently David Haas, a cancer patient advocate for the Mesthelioma Cancer Alliance reached out to me about how beneficial physical activity is to people going through treatments, in remission, and even family members of cancer patients, and he wanted to share with everyone who reads my blog. It was perfect timing considering that I am re-dedicating myself to fitness and I agree that physical activity is so important. He wrote a great article on the benefits of physical activity as a complimentary cancer treatment that I have posted below. Please read and share with loved ones in your life.

The Benefits of Physical Activity as a Complimentary Cancer Treatment
By David Haas

According to the National Cancer Institute, researchers are currently focusing their efforts on understanding the relationship between cancer and physical activity. So far, studies have indicated that regular physical activity reduces a person’s risk of developing certain cancers, specifically cancer of the breasts, colon, prostate, uterus and lungs. Scientists are also interested in whether exercise can inhibit the spread of cancerous cells, prevent cancer from reoccurring and improve survival rates. While researchers are not yet certain whether exercise is capable of inhibiting the development of cancer, it is clear that physical activity provides some very important benefits.

Using Physical Activity to Reduce Stress and Promote Well-Being:

Going through cancer treatment is both physically and mentally exhausting. Many common treatments leave patients weak, fatigued and physically ill. During treatment, the last thing that most patients want to do is exercise. However, light to moderate exercise can have significant benefits.

Patients who exercise during treatment frequently enjoy higher energy levels, enhanced mood and increased feelings of well-being. Being diagnosed with cancer can also take away a patient’s sense of control. Regardless of where an individual is in the recovery process, strengthening one’s physical condition can help patients regain control over their body. While cancer patients might not be able to fight their disease directly, they can put up a fight by increasing their overall heath.

Strengthening the Body Through Physical Fitness

Regardless of whether an individual is currently going through mesothelioma treatment or has been in remission for years, physical activity can be extremely beneficial. While battling cancer, many patients lose muscle mass, strength and physical endurance. Regular exercise can help a patient regain lost muscle mass and strengthen his or her body. Physical activity has also been proven to strengthen the heart, lower cholesterol and improve overall health. Many times, feeling stronger physically goes a long way in improving one’s mental outlook.

People experiencing negative side effects due to their treatment can also benefit from regular physical activity. Exercise can help patients increase their appetite, reduce water retention and manage pain. Light activity, like yoga or walking, can also help patients deal with nausea and constipation. Curbing these unpleasant side effects can make the treatment process significantly more enjoyable and enhance the patient’s quality of life.

Thanks David!

1 comment:

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