Today, we have an important guest post by David Haas, who has been conducting extensive research on cancer patients benefiting from staying physically fit. The article he wrote below is about the benefits exercise and a healthy diet both during and after a diagnosis of cancer of any form.
Cancer and the Benefits of Exercise
It was once a common convention for doctors to instruct cancer patients to simply rest and take it easy while undergoing treatment. However, newer research indicates that for people who have been diagnosed with cancer, maintaining an exercise regimen is not only safe and possible, but doing so may improve physical fitness and overall quality of life. While getting increased rest is still generally a good idea in cases in which physical activity causes pain, shortness of breath, or rapid heart rate, exercising can have many benefits, such as decreasing the risk of anxiety and depression, lowering the risk of muscular atrophy and osteoporosis, improving balance, lessening nausea, providing a social outlet, and even decreasing symptoms of fatigue.
In addition to taking fitness level, stamina, and strength into consideration, cancer patients should consult with their physician before beginning an exercise program, as stage of cancer and course of treatment should also be considered in determining the appropriate amount of exercise. Also, the type of exercise might differ depending on what cancer someone is going through. Someone who is diagnosed with breast cancer can perform different activities than someone with a respiratory illness such as mesothelioma. The key to maximizing the effectiveness of an exercise regimen is working the heart. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to heart rate, breathing, and muscle fatigue. Patients should start off slow, and if he or she feels very tired or notices shortness of breath, the patient should stop and rest, then resume as soon as fatigue symptoms pass. As the weeks progress, the duration and intensity of physical activity may be increased gradually. Many of those who are diagnosed with cancer feel the need to decrease the level of intensity upon beginning an exercise program. This is quite common, and if the patient encounters days on which planned exercise cannot be completed, it is still very beneficial for the patient to participate in all other normal activities as much as possible.
During chemotherapy and radiation, most patients find that their energy level is reduced. This type of fatigue does not improve with rest, and patients may find that implementing an aerobic training program may be effective in breaking the cycle of fatigue. Furthermore, continuing with a regular exercise program may enable patients to perform daily activities with fewer limitations.
Although those who are diagnosed with cancer may experience reduced energy for a number of reasons, healthcare professionals generally agree that maintaining a regular exercise routine can go far in improving quality of life and enhancing a patient's sense of well-being throughout the treatment process as well as beyond.