Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Post: Physical Fitness Benefits for Cancer Patients

My small but mighty band of blog followers have come to me in a variety of ways. Many are family members or friends who like to (read: feel obligated to!) keep up with what's happening with me. Some found me when I was featured by my pals at Another Mother Runner. Another crop found me when I posted about my cousin Polly's battle with breast cancer. (My eulogy about her is at the top of this blog). Still others made their first click when I was keeping a Caring Bridge site for my friend Kathleen who was battling cancer, too.

So it's always a delightful surprise when a person unrelated to any of those parts of my life stumbles across my site. That's what happened with David Haas. David is a contributor to The Mesothelioma Cancer Allience Blog. He wrote to me requesting the opportunity to write a guest post about the benefits of exercise for cancer patients - with a particular emphasis on mesothelioma. Because I care deeply about so many who have battled and continue to battle cancer and because fitness is a very important part of my life, I of course happily agreed.

If you have something cancer-, running-, fitness-, parenting-, or hilarious-related that you're hoping to share with my blog followers, please let me know. I'm happy to review and host other writers' ideas.

And don't you worry, my own original posts (probably nonsense, of course!) will return tomorrow!

Physical Fitness Benefits for Cancer Patients

Physical fitness has important benefits for cancer patients, whether you have just been diagnosed, are in treatment, or are in remission. Recent studies are showing that regular exercise can help you sleep better, have more energy, and raise your spirits.

Energy Boost

Regular exercise will help you have more energy to get things done. Cancer treatment can be very demanding, leaving you feeling exhausted afterwards. Exercise can help with that- even for those undergoing mesothelioma treatment. People who exercise regularly are raising their metabolic rate. Metabolism is the rate at which your body creates energy by burning calories in the form of food. So by exercising, not only will you have more energy, but you will also start to lose any extra fat you may be carrying around.

It may seem counter-intuitive that working until you are tired will give you more energy, but it is true. Once the initial tiredness fades, you will likely feel invigorated for several hours afterwards. The metabolic boost will last long after your workout is over. When you give energy, you get energy, provided you give your body sufficient food of high quality.

As a cancer patient, there are certain considerations and precautions to bear in mind. You will not likely be able to match the performance of a healthy person at first. That is fine. You will still see the benefits anyway. The key is to engage in regular, moderate exercise.

You will need to find a form of exercise that is right for you. It needs to be something that you will enjoy, otherwise you will not be able to sustain the motivation to keep at it. Many cancer patients have taken up running or jogging, swimming, or resistance training.

Resistance training is a great way to exercise, while also getting other benefits not seen with other forms of exercise. That is because resistance training builds muscle. And muscle raises your metabolism, even at rest. It burns more calories.

Another benefit of physical fitness is its effects on your mood and perception of pain. Regular exercise stimulates the release of chemicals called endorphins- your body's own pain killers. After an endorphin release, you will experience an elevation in your mood, pain reduction, and feelings of calm and contentment. And there is more good news. The effects will linger long after your workout is over.

Cancer treatment can be a grueling process. It can weigh heavily on a patient, leaving you feeling stressed and anxious. The endorphin release that comes from exercise will ease or eliminate those feelings. In fact, you may feel so good that you continue exercising long after your cancer has gone into remission!

If you are planning to undertake an unusually demanding exercise routine, be sure to consult first with your doctor to make sure it will not interfere with any treatment you may be undergoing. It is important that you listen to your body, and not overdo it. Moderation is key.  

1 comment:

  1. This is a good new to all cancer patients. We know that cancer is one of the serious conditions that each of us don't want to have. Exercise helps a lot and we should put it then in our daily routines.

    Newport Beach Cancer Fitness