David Haas, a reader and supporter of this website, asked to share his thoughts on the value of excercise and nutrition for cancer patients as they recover from their illness. Thanks David for this submission – jwa
Fitness During Recovery From Cancer
Exercise reduces stress, promotes healthier sleep habits, and generally increases happiness for most people. Clearly, exercise is good for everyone but people who are fighting cancer arguably need stress relief and an increased sense of well-being more than the average patient. Oncologists traditionally advised cancer patients to avoid activity, but recent research suggests that exercise benefits cancer patients as much as it benefits people who are not facing cancer treatment.
Cancer patients might feel as if they’ve completely lost control of their body. Not only that, but the side effects of many treatments wreak havoc on self-esteem. Newly dedicated exercise enthusiasts attest to a sense of pride and strength. It is certainly true that slowly working yourself up from two to ten push-ups and being able to take the stairs at work without becoming winded are significant accomplishments and demonstrate a certain amount of control over one’s body. Gaining such control can make all the difference in the world to a cancer patient who is struggling to get out of bed each morning. Fitness can help give people struggling through any type of cancer treatment, whether it is breast cancer, skin cancer, or even a rare disease such as mesothelioma, more energy to get through each day.
Before jumping into an exercise program, make sure you discuss your plan with your doctor. Because of your particular health concerns, certain exercises might not be a good idea. For example, if you are suffering from a weak immune system, it might not be wise to exercise in a crowded gym. Exercise programs should always be tailored to the needs of each person. A patient going through mesothelioma treatment will almost certainly need a different exercise program than a patient who is recovering from ductal carcinoma.
As cancer patients, we often focus on whether a particular treatment will increase our life expectancy. The National Cancer Institute is currently researching how exercise specifically benefits cancer patients. These studies will be interesting to monitor. It’s a good idea for most cancer patients to monitor these studies from a treadmill or in between yoga classes, because we don’t need research scientists to tell us that we feel better once we get moving.
Cancer is a complicated beast and it is too early to know whether the research will show that life expectancy for cancer patients increases with regular exercise. Regardless of the final results of the research, exercise will certainly improve the quality of life for cancer patients. Gaining a new sense of self-confidence, increasing the amount of sleep you get each night, and decreasing your stress levels are reason enough to start using your muscles.
By: David Haas Writer of the Haas Blaag