Guest Post: Is Exercise Beneficial To Cancer Patients?

As we all are very aware, cancer now vouches for one of the top spots that contributes to shortening our lives in this modern day society. It’s rare to not know of someone who has been touched by this deadly disease. Just because a cancer diagnosis is made, does not automatically mean an individual is incapacitated or sidelined from participating in daily activities, such as exercise.

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Today is National Cancer Survivor Day. I’d like to personally commend my grandmother who has been colon cancer free for over 20 years! (thanks to early detection and an unprocessed diet!) 🙂

I am thrilled to have someone who can educate not only my readers but myself as well on this subject. It seems as though cancer and death have become synonymous in today’s society, but with a proper exercise regiment, patients can overcome this stigmatic fear, depression, and doubt.

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Melanie Bowen, who blogs for Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance explains below on how the importance of exercise helps patients prognoses and which exercises are beneficial at what stage one is diagnosed with.

Fitness Levels and Exercises for Each Stage of Cancer Treatment

In our society, much is discussed about the importance of exercise, but not much is mentioned about the role of fitness during illness. In the past, physicians used to recommend that critically ill patients, such as those with cancer, rest and refrain from exercise. Today, we know that exercise of some form or other can greatly benefit almost anyone. For cancer patients, regular exercise significantly improves the overall quality of life, as well as offering a myriad of health benefits.

Following cancer diagnosis, individuals may need to make various accommodations in their exercise regimes. As always, if you have questions about the appropriateness of any activity, consult your doctor. Meanwhile, here are a few guidelines for fitness during a battle with cancer.

What is a Light Exercise?

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Those undergoing intense treatment programs might be seriously limited in their fitness abilities. For example, those undergoing treatment for mesothelioma or other forms of lung cancer may require a less strenuous exercise routine. For these individuals, light exercise will supply improved circulation and elevated mood as well as reduce cancer-related fatigue. During light exercise, you should not notice a significant increase in respiration or heart rate, and you probably won’t sweat.
Gentle stretching helps to improve flexibility and maintain or improve range of motion. For many patients with particularly aggressive cancers, stretching provides a way to stay mobile when other exercise is too strenuous. For individuals with lymphedema, painful swelling of the arm resulting from breast cancer surgery, simple arm extensions and other stretching exercises can reduce discomfort.

What is a Moderate Exercise?

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As cancer patients recover from treatment and begin to regain strength, moderate exercise will be most appropriate. During moderate exercise, breathing will quicken, but you shouldn’t be out of breath. You will also begin sweating lightly after about 10 minutes of activity.
Yoga, in some ways an extension of the simple stretching exercises that help during intense cancer treatment, helps to reduce fatigue, improve flexibility, relieve pain and decrease stress. In fact, since yoga has been known to be very beneficial for cancer patients, many cancer centers now offer yoga programs for patients in treatment and recovery. As participants become more centered by participating in yoga, many distressing symptoms of cancer and side effects of treatment, including insomnia, are alleviated.

What is an Advanced Exercise?

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Cancer patients nearing full recovery as well as cancer survivors should consider advanced fitness options. During vigorous exercise, you will experience rapid breathing, and you will probably begin sweating following just a few minutes of activity.

Many cancer patients lose considerable muscle mass during treatment. Weight training and other forms of resistance training helps to rebuild muscle and stamina. Survivors of prostate cancer, various stomach cancers and cancers that affect the head and neck will find weight training particularly effective as they rebuild strength and work off increases in fat tissue resulting from their bout with cancer.

Throughout life, exercise and fitness play important roles in your overall health. When a crisis such as a cancer diagnosis hits, it is important to find accommodations to allow you to continue getting the best fitness possible. When you make this effort, the rewards will be great.

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Melanie is currently a Master’s student with a passion that stems from her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness.  To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.

Follow Melanie’s twitter, connect with her on facebook, or feel free to shoot her an e-mail at mbowen@mesothelioma.com

Have you or someone you know been affected by cancer? 

Peace, love, and healing naturally!

~C.C.D.

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2 Responses to Guest Post: Is Exercise Beneficial To Cancer Patients?

  1. Allie says:

    My mom went through breast cancer earlier this year. Thankfully she is now cancer-free, but yoga and light Pilates really helped her post-treatment. Thanks for your post!

    • choc3178 says:

      that must have been such a difficult diagnosis and time to go through. So glad to hear she benefited from exercise and is doing better!

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