A few weeks ago I got a wonderful email from reader Melanie. Since I am on vacation, I thought it would be great to introduce you all to Melanie and allow her to share her passions with you. Melanie writes a blog about the benefits of exercise with serious illnesses such as cancer. Personally, cancer has touched the lives of so many loved ones and has unfortunately taken some from me. I know that when the woman I worked for was diagnosed with cancer it sparked a fire in her to get out and enjoy life. She enjoyed more long walks, tai chi, and so much more just to be and seize the day! I think exercise is so important for everyone and I think it adds a special break and rejuvenation for people with serious illnesses.
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. To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.
So, without further ado, here is Melanie!
Fitness Benefits For Cancer Patients
Recent research has shown regular exercise to be beneficial to those who are being treated for cancer, and those who have completed treatment and are in remission. In the past, doctors would have cancer patients get as much rest as possible, but it has become clear that staying physically active speeds recovery and may extend life expectancy after cancer. Here are some of examples of exercises for each stage of the treatment process.
Walking is one the easiest and most flexible ways to exercise. It is convenient exercise activity that can be done virtually anywhere. Perfect for those who are still in treatment and without a lot of strength, walking can be beneficial even if it is only to the mailbox or around the block. The patient can go as fast or as slow as they need to, and it is easy to increase the pace and length of time walking as strength returns.
Walking is especially helpful to patients battling a prognosis of mesothelioma or other lung-related cancers, who may struggle with catching their breath during higher activity. Walking not only provides exercise, but also can be soothing to the spirit and help a patient keep up social contact while in treatment. It is a great way to get patients combat a sedentary lifestyle from being bedridden. Walking promotes the slowly building of confidence to move on to other activities when appropriate.
For those who are recovering from treatment and are feeling physically stronger, yoga may be a viable option. Yoga programs are being offered in treatment centers as a complementary therapy, providing the patient with a way to maintain inner serenity that aids in healing and increases vitality. Yoga may also help to reduce pain, tiredness and lack of sleep, which leads to a higher overall quality of life. The stretching and poses can help rebuild and maintain muscle integrity, which is often greatly reduced during cancer treatment.
Yoga provides relief from stress and the physical symptoms of cancer treatment and its aftermath. It also offers the patient a way find support from other people who may be going through the same experience.
Advanced exercise is recommended for those patients who have been recovering for a period of time and have already regained a reasonable level of fitness and strength. This is where running can make a big difference. Much like walking, running allows a lot of flexibility in regard to distance and intensity. A patient can start out with a short run around the block, then gradually go for longer distances as fitness is regained. It requires only a good pair of shoes and a desire to become healthier and stronger. The biggest benefit of running is that it is a great way to combat treatment-related fatigue, one that is not mitigated with rest. Also, running promotes increased stamina, reduces the rate of bone loss, and builds muscle.
While exercise is beneficial to any cancer patient, it is also important to balance out a regimen with proper rest. No two patients are the same and all should always consult with a doctor or care team before adding exercise to a treatment or aftercare program. Cancer is often a surprise, and it is always life changing, but it is never the end. It offers a second chance at life and the chance to do things better.
Thank you so much Melanie, I am grateful for you sharing this information with us and I hope you all check out Melanie’s blog! She has a ton of wonderful information that anyone can benefit from reading!