Utilizing Exercise for Cancer Patients

     Many cancer patients find a desire to live a better lifestyle, not only to survive the disease but also to live longer after recovering. From the time of diagnosis, exercise can help cancer sufferers to deal with the stress, anxiety and depression that come with cancer. Exercise that also works on the relaxation of the mind, such as yoga or Tai Chi, is especially beneficial. Furthermore, physical fitness can help to regain appetite that is often lost during treatment of cancer.

The type of exercise undertaken is highly dependent on how cancer has affected the patient. Some days, the cancer sufferer may not feel well enough to do any physical activity especially while undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation that cause high levels of fatigue; however, the patient should try to exercise as regularly as possible as even a few minutes of exercise is better than none. Reports show that studies of numerous types of cancer have shown that obesity reduces survival time after cancer treatment and increased chances of recurrence.

Exercise can be broken down into four categories: aerobic, strength training, balance and stretching. A cancer patient, whether in the treatment stage, remission or even just diagnosed, should cover each of these areas. Although at times the cancer sufferer may not feel up to doing much, just 10-minute blocks of exercise throughout the day can be highly beneficial.

Aerobic exercise is particularly useful to feel better during treatment. This can be something as simple as walking, an exercise which can be practiced immediately after undergoing treatment. When combined with strength training, the body decreases body fat and builds lean muscle most efficiently.

Strength training is highly important for cancer suffers who are undergoing chemotherapy, commonly used for the treatment of mesothelioma, because it causes a loss of bone density and muscle. Through weight training, cancer sufferers are able to increase muscle in order to maintain bone density. They should consult their doctor before beginning a regimen.

A sense of balance may be slightly impaired by medications, making falls more likely. Chemotherapy patients especially run the risk of breaking their more fragile bones. There are very simple exercises that can improve balance and can be completed even on days when the cancer patient has little energy. Such exercises include balancing on one leg or a grapevine moving by crossing one leg in front of the other.

Too much bed rest can lead to stiff joints among other problems. Stretching relieves this discomfort while providing the body with gentle exercise. It can also help to stretch areas that have developed a weakness due to the treatment such as the rotator cuff in breast cancer patients who have undergone mastectomies.

Written by guest writer David Haas  (the words and views shared above are those of the author and not of http://www.innerfight.com)

David is a cancer support group and awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. He has been successful in creating fitness ideas for those dealing with cancer, while creating relationships with similar organizations. You can read his BLOG or connect with him on TWITTER

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