If you are one of the 12.5 million people who are living with cancer or have had a cancer diagnosis, you can appreciate the quest to try anything that promotes health. Remember that “wellness” isn’t a state of being disease-free, but rather maximizing your health wherever you are in life. That is why I’m happy to share today’s guest post from Melanie Bowen.
Melanie is currently a Master’s student with a passion that stems from her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness through her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. I hope that sharing this post gives all of you a piece of wellness as you fight to maintain your health.
According to a report from Macmillan Cancer Support, a British health care charity, exercise is a “wonder drug” for cancer care. Cancer patients can reduce fatigue, other treatment side effects and even cancer recurrence risks by exercising on a regular basis. However, at least 2.5 hours of exercise is needed each week to produce these benefits.
This recommendation is based on exercise guidelines created by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which recently released a ninth edition of the guidelines. While moderately intense exercise offers the most benefits, even light activities can help cancer patients cope with cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.
Most of the studies on exercise and cancer focused on people with breast, colon and prostate cancers. However, even those with advanced cancers like mesothelioma can reap the benefits of physical activity. The key is to follow an exercise plan that takes into account the various stages of cancer treatment and recovery.
Patients should follow the recommendations of their doctors, physical therapists or fitness trainers. Certain activities are more appropriate than others during certain stages of cancer. Here are three popular exercise recommendations for people who are going through cancer therapy or recovery.
People with advanced cancers, or those who are struggling with aggressive treatments, are great candidates for light exercises. Light stretches are helpful for anyone who needs to take it easy. Stretching does not require any special equipment, and it can be done almost anywhere.
Gentle stretching exercise improves flexibility, increases vitality, reduces fatigue, and improves sleep. It also reduces depression and promotes a feeling of calmness. Cancer patients who cannot handle strenuous exercise can still improve their fitness with stretching.
Yoga is a good moderate activity for cancer patients. While it may be too much for patients going through aggressive therapy, it is often ideal for those who are recovering after treatment. People who practice it will develop a light sweat after a few minutes of exercise, but gentle yoga will not tax breathing. In fact, it will improve it. The MD Anderson Cancer Center is one of many cancer treatment centers that offer yoga classes for their patients. Yoga is particularly helpful for relieving cancer-related stress. It also decreases fatigue, improves physical function and encourages better sleep.
Aerobics are advanced exercises for people in cancer recovery. It is the most beneficial type of activity for cancer patients who can handle it. Aerobics are any exercise that gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing. It is an excellent treatment for cancer-related fatigue.
Aerobic exercise requires constant movement. It is an effective solution for the fatigue and muscle wasting of bed rest and inactivity. Aerobic activity strengthens the heart, lungs, muscles, bones and even brain function. It is an excellent way for cancer patients to regain their strength and fitness.
According to MacMillan Cancer Support, exercise should not be an afterthought of cancer care. For most patients, it can be an effective complement to conventional cancer treatment. As long as patients exercise according to doctor recommendations, they should have no problems with this natural “wonder drug.”