Health & Nutrition

June 21, 2012

Cancer, Fitness and Quality of life

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Guest Post by: David Haas of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. David has been writing and researching about the benefits of fitness while going through cancer, and also the effect that cancer support groups have on cancer patients.


Cancer, Fitness and Quality of Life
photo by afunkydamsel

Exercise is known for its many health benefits, including the prevention of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and even certain types of cancer. For people who have already been diagnosed with cancer, the health benefits are just as significant and can be achieved during all stages of cancer; including right after diagnosis, during treatment and while in remission.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the physical benefits exercise can provide for cancer patients and survivors are numerous. For example, many patients experience chronic fatigue and decreased energy combined with restlessness and insomnia. Regular exercise will provide these individuals with a much-needed boost in energy, and will also possibly lend to improved quality of sleep. This is especially true for those currently receiving treatments that zap energy, such as chemotherapy, radiation and pain medication.

Another major benefit of exercise for cancer patients include increased appetite. Many patients, especially those in treatment, suffer from decreased appetite. This can lead to severe dehydration, which can worsen symptoms and side effects of treatment.

Other physical benefits include, bowel regularity, increased muscle and joint function, relief from aches and pains associated with cancer and a decrease in nausea and dizziness. Exercise can also help in regulating pressure and blood glucose levels, healing, maintaining a healthy weight, decreased chance of recurrence after remission and a decreased risk of cancer fatality.

Along with physical benefits, cancer patients can also receive psychological and emotional benefits from exercise. For instance, many patients suffer from psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. By increasing the body’s production of endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals, exercise can provide boosts in mood and self-esteem. This greatly reduces the risk of depression and anxiety, and also treats and improves symptoms for those already suffering with these conditions.

Some patients may find exercise a bit challenging. For example, individuals with conditions such asĀ mesothelioma or lung cancer, shortness of breath can interfere with the ability to exercise. However, these patients, too, can benefit from mild workouts, such as walking, swimming or yoga.

No matter their diagnosis, starting out slow is essential when beginning an exercise regimen. Overexertion can lead to injury, as well as exhaustion, dehydration and dizziness. Also, talking to a doctor before working out is recommended. A trained professional can help formulate a personalized plan that will work best on an individual level.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of exercise is improved quality of life. For those who have been diagnosed with cancer or other life-threatening illness, living each day to the fullest is extremely important. By improving mood, energy levels and overall body function, exercise can lend to a more positive outlook, and therefore greatly improve quality of life. In short, for most patients, there are no drawbacks of exercise, and there are numerous benefits. Talk to a doctor about an exercise plan, and take the first step to a better life.

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