Guest Post: Physical Activity Benefts During and After Cancer Treatment

February 6, 2012 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

Amy’s Note:  I was contacted about the following guest post by David Haas, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Guest Blogger.  Davis is a cancer patient advocate for the Alliance, and he writes and researches for the betterment of cancer patients around the United States.  I have had many friends and family members who have fought their own cancer battles.  It is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  Welcome, David.  

Physical Activity Benefits During and After Cancer Treatment
David Haas, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Guest Blogger

When facing cancer treatment, or working towards keeping your cancer in remission, your priorities in life often change. This includes a new or more focused emphasis on a lifestyle that will help maintain your health, and give a better chance at beating this devastating disease. While there are many lifestyle changes that can be made, research continues to show promise in exercise, both for those getting ready for cancer treatment or going through cancer treatment, as well as for cancer survivors in remission. While the amount and types of exercise may be limited depending on the types of treatments and the severity of your cancer diagnosis, exercise can be used in most forms of cancer, ranging from breast cancer recovery to mesothelioma treatment.

One of the primary benefits of exercising during or after cancer treatment is managing treatment side effects by maintaining and building strength. Building physical strength can increase endurance during treatments, as well as can help you rebuild strength after treatments that have left you largely inactive due to side effects of treatments like chemotherapy. Bone and muscles loss are both common during cancer treatments, exercising combats these effects, helping reduce fatigue and leaving you more independent. Exercise also helps you maintain mobility and flexibility in the major joints of your body, which can be impacted by longer periods of bed rest.

Exercise has also been shown to help improve your mood during and after cancer treatments. When you exercise, your body naturally releases “feel good” chemicals, such as certain neurotransmitters and endorphins. These chemicals naturally boost your mood, and can help fight off cancer-related anxiety or depression. Exercise also can help take your mind off of your diagnosis, providing a healthy outlet for coping and reducing feelings of frustration or hopelessness.

The benefits of exercise are increasingly showing that not only can exercise help manage side effects, but it can also help prevent cancer from returning. Consistently, research has shown that those who take part in exercise after treatment live longer and have less recurrences, suggests Kerry Courneya, PhD, from the University of Alberta. Part of this benefit is due to the greater weight control experienced by cancer survivors who regularly exercise, decreasing risks for obesity.  

While exercise can play an important role in your cancer treatment and recovery, keep in mind that rest is also important. Work with your doctor or treatment team to develop an exercise routine that is appropriate for your individual situation. This will help prevent any negative impacts on your treatment or recovery that can occur with over-exercising before your body is ready.

Entry filed under: Health, Nutrition. Tags: , , .

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