How Important is Exercise to Cancer Patients and Survivors?

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In a recent study from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it states adults should engage in at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity a week and in muscle-strengthening workouts two days of the week.

Cancer patients should also exercise this amount. If you are a cancer patient or cancer survivor you may need to exercise a little differently depending on the condition of your body while having the disease or being treated for it. Chemotherapy can cause you fatigue, especially when taking multiple treatments. It’s very important to gauge your fatigue before beginning a workout program. Never try to exercise when you are totally exhausted from chemo or radiation. This has a totally different effect on your bodies chemistry than just being tired from strenuous physical activity. The correct amount of exercise can only be determined by you. It is very important to listen to your body and stay aware of your limits, especially during treatment. We want you feeling better not worse!

Exercise is broken into four parts, this goes for people with and without cancer. These main areas are aerobic exercise, strength training, balance and stretching, all of which are equally important. Bicycling and running are great aerobic activities to increase your heart rate and improve your endurance, which can in turn benifit you during chemo and radiation. Combining aerobics with strength training builds lean muscle, which in turn decreases fat and improves your metabolism. When strength training focus on your upper and lower body to keep a good balance of muscle building.

Balance and stretching go hand in hand. They help your body focus on areas that need muscle building, and prevent most injury’s that can occur from strength training, such as strained and pulled muscles. Basic stretches can allow you to work out longer, which can also help build endurance. Take your time when stretching and make sure to focus on your breathing, allowing the muscles to loosen and lengthen. Slow down. Each stretch should be held for 15 to 30 seconds. Impaired balance is also something cancer patients have to combat. To counter this, simple calf raises and one leg lifts in a standing position work and can prevent you from having a fall in the future. Doing this can help you feel so much better!

While exercise is important, it won’t help much with out a proper diet. While going through cancer treatment, loss of appitite is a common side effect. Your body is burning many more calories than usual fighting the cancer and assimilating the chemo and radiation, so it is very important to choose the right nutritional foods when you are able to eat. Keeping weight on isn’t the goal, being healthy is. Obesity can cause cancer and/or increase your cancer’s chances of it reoccuring. Remember to eat foods that are rich in anti-oxidents like blueberries and blackberries and fruits and vegetables are a must.

According to the National Cancer Institute, physical activity can reduce the risk of breast cancer, by 20 to 80 percent, the risk of endometrial cancer by 20 to 40 percent, and the risk of colon cancer by 30 to 40 percent. However, all cancer patients should discuss diet and exersise with their doctors before proceeding with workouts and major diet changes.

If you have any more questions, please let us know in the comment thread and someone will get back to you. Thanks for reading.