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March 23, 2012

The Great Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients

David HaasThis is a guest post by David Haas. David Haas is a cancer support group and awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In addition to researching the many valuable programs available to their site’s visitors, David often blogs about programs and campaigns underway at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, as well as creative fitness ideas for those dealing with cancer, while creating relationships with similar organizations. You can connect with David on his blog, on twitter, and on facebook.

Most everyone can reap the benefits of exercise, and cancer patients are no exception. In addition to lowering the risk of certain cancers, regular exercise can improve quality of life for those who already suffer from the disease. Whether just diagnosed, currently in treatment or in remission, those living with cancer and its side effects can significantly improve their health with the help of regular workouts.
For certain individuals, such as those with heart disease or mesothelioma, exercise can be difficult. Overexertion can lead to shortness of breath, increased blood pressure and other health concerns. Thankfully, exercise doesn’t have to be intense in order to provide benefits. With just light to moderate exercise on a regular basis, overall health and well-being can be significantly improved. For example, taking a thirty-minute walk three times a week can improve body function, appetite, mood and quality of sleep.

Cancer patients often suffer from depression, anxiety and other mood and emotional disorders. One great benefit of exercise is that it releases mood-enhancing chemicals called endorphins into the blood stream. These “feel good” chemicals can significantly improve mood and ease anxieties, as well as relieve aches and pains. Overall, exercise decreases depression and lends to a more positive outlook on life.

Cancer and its treatments often lead to reduced body function in patients. This can include fatigue, constipation and general sluggishness. Exercise keeps the body in better working condition by providing boosts in energy and alertness, and also keeps the body regular in terms of waste removal. By increasing energy levels and improving body function, exercise can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from cancer and the side effects of treatments. In addition, exercise can also help promote bone, muscle and joint health.

Decreased appetite is a common side

effect of many cancer medications, such as radiation and chemotherapy, and can lead to severe malnutrition, dehydration and weight loss. By burning calories and inducing sweating, exercise can greatly increase a patient’s appetite. This helps ensure that proper nutrition is being received, which can significantly reduce the side effects of treatment and lead to better overall health and wellness.

It’s best for cancer patients to start small when beginning an exercise regimen. Too much physical activity can lead to exhaustion, dehydration

or injury. Also, patients should speak to a doctor before starting a workout routine. A doctor can help you formulate a plan that is safe and effective, and tailor-made to suit your individual goals and needs.

Health and quality of life are two major concerns for cancer patients. With regular exercise, patients can receive significant mental, physical and emotional benefits. Talking to a doctor about a fitness routine can be an important step on the road to recovery, and is something all cancer patients should consider.