This is a guest blog post from Melanie Bowen who is passionate about exercise for cancer patients
Many studies have shown the effects of daily exercise upon cancer patients and those in recovery from treatment. The results vary for the type of cancer that fitness helps. In cases of cancer patients who have been through breast or colon cancer treatment, exercise can reduce the risk of cancer redeveloping by almost 50 percent. However, what about physical activity for other types of cancers such as lung cancer or mesothelioma? Andrea Cheville, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic suggests that exercise is always important but many cancer patients aren’t well informed on how to get physically active in a healthy way during or after cancer. Fitness is an important part of a daily routine to build strength, confidence and wellbeing. It can also bring energy balance back into the body and increase blood circulation. So where do you start?
Just Getting into Exercise
It’s okay to start small with physical activity. In fact, that’s what most doctors recommend. Many cancer patients see a daily walk as a triumph in the beginning, but over time will see immense improvements. In addition to walking, stretching, yoga, rowing, swimming and other light impact exercises can help build muscular and bone strength in the body. It’s important to realize that exercise is meant to improve mobility and produce endorphins, so if you don’t feel that exercise is producing a happy effect or you feel sicker after exercising, it may not be the right choice to start physical activity. As always, check with your doctor about a plan to get more physically active if you have cancer.
Benefits of Low Impact Exercises
For many cancer patients, it’s difficult to get around at first. There is a real lack of energy that comes from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Many patients choose to lift light weights at home, or try other at-home exercise to see improvements. Swimming, light aerobics and even tai chi are some other great ways to get started with low impact exercise. Each of these physical activities moves your body, develops muscle strength, alleviates stress and builds your fitness level. In a few short weeks of doing low impact exercises, you can see improvements and build upon your physical activities for more rigorous training.
Taking the Next Step
Physical activity for cancer patients will always be relative to how their bodies cope with the changes. If the body is still weak after exercise or more cancer treatment is necessary, it’s important to check with your doctor about the types of activities available to you. It’s important to realize that not all cancer patients will find the benefits of cancer to be ideal. There are all types of cancers out there, and some with more extreme effects may not be able to handle any stress to the body for a certain period after treatment. However, even the slightest exercise can benefit a patient so it is very important to speak with your doctor and find out what is right for you.