Saturday, June 9, 2012

Being Fit with Cancer

Living with cancer can be overwhelming especially if you are someone who enjoys exercising and its benefits. The good news is that physical activity can actually help you to feel better and improve your chances of survival. Ballard-Barbash had a team look at breast cancer survivors. Women who exercised the most and ate healthy foods had a major reduction in the recurrence of their breast cancer.

Research has found that women participating in physical activity after being diagnosed with breast cancer have an improved quality of life and less fatigue. Studies are even finding a possible link for an improved outcome of breast cancer with exercise. More information is available in the "Physical Activity and Cancer Fact Sheet."

Exercise really needs to start right after you are diagnosed. Find an activity that you enjoy and will work with your symptoms. If you have trouble with balance, you may want to swim or use exercise equipment. You can exercise for short periods of time to build up your endurance. You may want to find a friend to help you get motivated. Cancer patients should check with their doctor before developing an exercise program. Your exercise program needs to be tailored to your cancer treatment, the type and stage of cancer and your fitness level. By exercising only ten minutes a day, you can stimulate your immune system and nourish your body, mind, heart and spirit.

The benefits of exercise for cancer patients are the same as for the rest of the population:  an increased fitness level, improved muscle strength, weight loss, and more lean muscle mass. Strength and flexibility will increase, and you may feel more energetic and have more stamina. You also will lower your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise can boost your self-confidence and improve your mood. All of these benefits will increase your cancer treatment tolerance.

Shoulder shrugs and knee lifts are good warm up exercises that will prepare the body for exercise. Finish your session with stretching like reaching over your head and holding it for 15-30 seconds. Large muscle areas like the thighs and back can be exercised to improve flexibility and strength. If it is okay with your doctor, you should drink plenty of fluids. Using light weights helps to build bone strength and muscle mass which will lower your risk of osteoporosis. Someone who might be recovering from mesothelioma may find that walking regularly and using a personal trainer to set up an easy exercise program will hep to gain his or her muscles back into shape.

Regular physical activity will help your balance, lessen nausea and improve circulation to the legs, which reduces the possibility of blood clots. It may also lower your risk for anxiety and depression.  If movement causes pain, shortness of breath or a rapid heart beat, you should rest until you can slowly start exercising again.  The idea is to gradually get to a moderate level of exercise like a brisk walk. So start moving to feel better.

By: David Haas of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Monday, June 4, 2012

Physical Fitness Vitally Important for Cancer Patients

More and more scientific evidence is coming in that physical fitness can play a vital role in improving the quality of life of cancer patients. This is true for those who have just been diagnosed, are currently being treated, or are in remission. Physical fitness can be a tremendous help to cancer patients, even those with a very rare cancer like mesothelioma, in the areas of sleep quality, energy levels, immune system support, and mood.
The link between exercise and greater quality of life for those undergoing treatments "is incredibly strong" according to the National Cancer Institute's Dr. Rachel Ballard-Barbash.
Physical Fitness Increases Energy Levels
Many cancer patients have side effects from their medication, not to mention the cancer itself, can bring about an almost debilitating fatigue. It is extremely hard to live anything close to a normal life when you are tired all the time, particularly during the daytime. And since people who do not get enough sleep are often irritable, the effects are seen there as well.
How does being physically fit boost your energy levels?
Regular exercise, although it may seem like the last thing you want to do, is exactly what is needed for many cancer patients. The initial investment of energy pays off by raising your metabolism over time. Your metabolic rate determines how much and how fast your body burns off calories and fat to produce energy. A higher metabolic rate means you are burning more fuel for energy, losing fat, and experiencing higher energy levels.
Fitness Increases Sleep Quality
Getting a good workout will certainly tire you out, helping you fall asleep faster and get deeper, more restful sleep. If you are currently undergoing treatment for your cancer, your body urgently needs sleep in order to recover from the side effects of the treatment. Many cancer treatments are unable to target only the cancer, but affect healthy cells as well. Getting a good night's rest enables your healthy cells to recover and your immune system to fight the cancer. Ultimately, it is your body’s own immune system that will defeat the cancer.
Once you have gotten through the first few days of your new exercise routine, you will start seeing the payoff for the work you have put in. Getting better sleep means you will be more rested during the day, allowing you to get everyday things done that you were too tired to do before.
Immune System Support
The immune system is more effective and active when you exercise regularly. Regular exercise boosts the activity of natural killer T-cells in the body. These are the immune system cells that roam your bloodstream, looking for pathogens. When they identify an invader, they will try to kill it.
One side effect of cancer treatment is a lowered immune system response to infection. This can put you at risk for developing colds or the flu, a bacterial infection, or pneumonia. In effect, you would be now fighting a two-front war. Exercise gives you another weapon in your arsenal.
Caner is a disease that can impact your life; however, don’t let it take over. Fight back and get active through exercise, don’t let the cancer outrun you. Consult your doctor and find a workout regimen that best suits the needs of your and your cancer and get our there and get moving!

By: David Haas of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance