Battling Cancer through Exercise

14 Jun

Maintaining a regular exercise schedule isn’t about just looking great in a bikini (although it doesn’t hurt). David Haas, a cancer support group and awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, wrote a fantastic guest post for The Jerp today on using exercise as a way to battle cancer. So now you have it, spending quality time with the gym really is good for your health…

“Many people don’t like the idea of exercise. They have convinced themselves that it is uncomfortable, boring and overly strenuous. However, it is one of the most important things that can be done to promote good health, especially for people suffering or recovering from cancer. 

Scientific studies have revealed that people who exercised regularly were 50 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer, even with patients who were obese, ate a poor diet, and smoked tobacco. Similar studies showed that exercise also reduced breast cancer risk in women of all ages. Furthermore, people who are in remission will reduce the chances of their cancer returning and enjoy a longer lifespan simply by exercising.

Besides possessing great preventative power, exercise has much to offer people who are already battling the disease. According to the University of Missouri at Columbia, regular exercise reduced the number and severity of side effects that typically follow treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Some of these side effects included nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue and pain.

Exercise also helps to boost immunity, which is a critical advantage in the body’s fight against cancer. This is especially important for people whose immune systems are weakened due to cancer treatments in order to help avoid potentially life-threatening infections.

Another benefit of increased physical activity is better oxygen efficiency, which can be of particular benefit to people with mesothelioma. Over time, exercise strengthens the lungs and reduces blood pressure and heart rate, making breathing an easier task.

For people suffering from hormone dependent cancers such as the breast, prostate or ovarian types, the benefits of exercise should not be underestimated. Regular physical activity has a profound influence on the endocrine system and helps to keep levels of estrogen and testosterone balanced.

Weight is another issue where exercise is known to be helpful. People who are obese are far more likely to develop certain types of cancer or to have their cancer return. Furthermore, obesity contributes to inflammation, poor hormonal balance, decreased oxygen efficiency, and immune suppression. By losing excess weight, cancer patients can make the treatment and recovery processes easier and more effective.

Staying physically fit during and after cancer doesn’t have to be strenuous chore. Studies have demonstrated that even forms of incidental exercise such as gardening, walking to the store, and swimming provide great benefit. Yoga is also a popular form of exercise for people with cancer because it improves flexibility, range of motion, and helps to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.

Depending on the type, severity, and location of a patient’s cancer, it may be necessary to take special precautions regarding limitations and abilities. Patients are encouraged to consult their oncologist or general practitioner prior to beginning an exercise regimen.”

Thanks David!

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