This is a guest blog article written by David Haas. Thanks David for the contribution!
Every one knows that exercise contributes to a healthy life, but for those diagnosed with cancer, working out offers even more benefits. According to the National Cancer Institute, regular exercise can improve patients’ quality of life, body image and response to treatment. New research demonstrates that even a moderate amount of exercise plays a significant role in helping patients cope with a diagnosis and manage day to day living at all stages of the disease.
Dealing with a diagnosis of cancer can leave a patient feeling powerless and frightened. Regular exercise promotes the release of endorphins, mood- boosting hormones that combat stress. Because exercise raises the heart rate and oxygenates the blood, it improves circulation and keeps blood vessels flexible. Working out also supports immune function and strengthens muscles in even bedridden individuals. Not only that, working out can help patients reclaim a sense of control over their lives and improve their overall sense of well-being.
For those coping with the stress of treatment, regular exercise can reduce pain and help ease problems such as digestive discomfort, muscle aches and joint pain. The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society point out that patients with virtually all forms of cancer, such as mesothelioma, coon cancer and leukemia, can benefit from an exercise program tailored to their level of ability. Regular exercise can help with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, and can also help to restore mobility and organ function after surgery.
For cancer survivors, working out can be a life-affirming activity that supports their efforts to stay well after cancer. Some survivors run marathons or engage in other fitness activities that confirm their return to normal life. Experts note, though, that because cancer treatments can cause fragility in bones and joints, it’s advisable to work with a trainer familiar with cancer patients who want to plan a return to pre-diagnosis fitness levels.
Cancer patients at all stages of coping with the disease have to deal with many physical changes, such as extreme weight loss, muscle weakness and atrophy, bloating and weight gain, or disfigurement from surgery and treatment. Exercise can build muscle and restore flexibility to scarred tissues, allowing even those with severe mobility problems to move more easily. Working out also helps restore feelings of attractiveness and personal empowerment, which improves quality of life.
Although exercise has clear benefits for cancer patients and survivors, experts on fitness and physical therapy caution that it’s important to plan a fitness regimen that accommodates the changes created by the disease and its treatments, such as weakness, loss of muscle tone and longer term damage to bones and organs from treatments and surgeries. But as recent studies demonstrate, even a little movement can make a big difference in the lives of those suffering from cancers of all kinds.