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

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