Today’s guest blog is by Melanie Bowen, a Master’s student with a passion that stems from her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. Her writing often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness.
Surviving cancer and going through treatment is an
extraordinary accomplishment. While fitness doesn’t cure or cause cancer to
suddenly go into remission, it definitely plays an important role in overcoming the
disease. Even for those who have a particularly exhaustive treatment regimen,
there are a few safe exercises that can those during and after treatment.
Why Should You Exercise
Multiple studies have shown that eating right and exercising can prevent cancer
and help with weight control. It also increases your muscle strength, improves
body mass, uplifts mood, builds self-confidence and lessens fatigue. In addition,
staying healthy can reduce your risk for diabetes and heart disease. For cancer
patients, fitness activities are essential to keep yourself healthy and happy during
treatment, and build your body back up afterwards. Not to mention, exercise has
been linked to preventing many types of cancer. Keeping the body fit allows the
immune system to be in its prime to fight foreign bodies.
Types of Exercises for Cancer Survivors
While everyone has a different experience with cancer and some may feel
stronger than others, you can start with shorter and low impact exercises. It is important to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise
program; you want to ensure that your program fits your specific situation without
over exerting your body.
Even at the beginner level, you can lift smaller weights to help build muscle.
Cancer treatment often leads to the loss of muscle and increase of fat. For those
who do have a higher fat ratio to muscle, resistance training is important because as
you build more muscles, you also burn fat and calories naturally. Resistance
training is also a low impact exercise perfect for those who can’t move too much
or take part in strenuous activities. Pilates is one type of resistance body
conditioning that helps flexibility, muscle strength and endurance. Furthermore,
Pilates can help spinal alignment and developing a strong core, which can in turn
improve coordination and balance; two things that can be especially beneficial
for cancer patients.
Many cancer survivors start with yoga because patients can start out slow if they
have no experience, while other can try more advanced techniques. Whether
you are a beginner or expert, yoga is a low impact activity that also helps to
increase the flexibility of your limbs. There are various work out
routines with yoga that involve breathing exercises and moving your body into
poses that can be done on the floor, standing or with a medicine ball
aid. Some patients also enjoy the fact that they can do it in the comfort of their
own home or go to a class and feed off of the energy and positivity of others.
Aerobic exercises include light jogging, swimming, walking and stretching
exercises. As long as you keep moving,
no matter how slow, you can continue to keep your heart rate up and reap the
benefits of releasing endorphins into the body, and toxins out.
It’s important to get back into a regular routine after cancer treatment. Fitness
should come naturally and not place too much stress on your body. Dancing,
bicycling, horseback riding, canoeing, martial arts and sports are other fun
options to get into during or after cancer treatment.