Effects of Physical Fitness on the Cancer Patient
by Guest Blogger David Haas
Physical activity and fitness provide many of the same benefits to cancer patients and survivors as they do to the general public. Of course, cancer patients face a number of challenges with this aspect of healthy living that the average healthy adult does not. While fitness is not a cure for cancer, it certainly aids in prevention and in healthy living while coping with the disease. Here are just a few of the benefits that fitness offers any cancer patient, including colon and mesothelioma cancer patients.
While fitness is not a cure, it has certainly proven helpful in decreasing cancer recurrence in cancer survivors. One research group showed that women who survive breast cancer are less likely to face it again if they exercised. Another two studies showed that survivors of colorectal cancer live longer if they regularly exercised.
Exercise has also been proven to increase mood and lead to feelings of happiness and confidence
Besides these phenomenal findings, individuals who have recently been diagnosed with cancer or who are in the middle of treatments can find great hope with regular exercise. Just like healthy adults, these individuals will find that they gain strength, energy and lean muscle mass. Exercise has also been proven to increase mood and lead to feelings of happiness and confidence. In a paradoxical effect, exercise also decreases fatigue. These benefits of exercise are particularly useful for a cancer patient.
Individuals dealing with cancer may often feel down and discouraged. Most of the reasons for this are easy to guess. These people are coping with the loss of their health as well as the loss of their futures, dreams and goals. This loss can be tremendous, often times as great as the loss of a loved one would be. Exercise has what is known as a dopamine effect. This, as well as the effect it has on the chemicals serotonin and endorphin in the brain, can increase mood and even decrease some types of pain.
Just getting up and moving, even if only with flexibility exercises, is better than staying sedentary
Research has also shown that regular exercise can decrease fatigue, even among those suffering from chronic health issues including cancer. While exercise may seem like the last thing the tired individual wants to do, it can greatly increase energy levels, especially in usually sedentary people. Of course, cancer patients may have difficulty in participating in the recommended aerobic and strength training workouts regularly. In this case, some exercise is better than none. Just getting up and moving, even if only with flexibility exercises, is better than staying sedentary. The American Cancer Society recommends 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week for the average person, but also remember to give yourself some time to relax.
Fitness is important during all stages of life. However, for a cancer patient, it can be vital to increase energy levels and boost the mood. One should definitely check with a physician before beginning any new exercise program.
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