Cancer touches every soul in one-way or another. There are many treatments available for both the mind and the body when living with this disease but the most important treatment option can often be overlooked. With chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, medications and rehabilitation, it is easy to forget that exercise can be a cancer patient’s greatest ally.
Extreme Fatigue is one of the most common complaints heard from patients during chemotherapy treatments but there are ways to help alleviate this uncomfortable side effect without adding additional medications into their day. Numerous studies have shown the merits of exercising throughout treatment to help maintain a normal level of activity. These studies have also shown that continuing to follow an exercise program after treatment may help cancer survivors maintain a quality of life similar to that found before diagnosis.
Exercise can do more than just help reduce fatigue. It can also help many patients address the emotional issues that come with a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Issues such as weight gain, muscle loss, and postoperative healing can create a distorted body image, which may lead to depression. It is widely known that exercise can aid in weight loss and that weight bearing exercises can increase muscle mass but during exercise, the body also releases endorphins that create an elevated mood. This elevated mood could help patients see their situation in a more positive light and aid in their recovery.
Although some form of activity is recommended daily, each patient will require a different exercise program dependent on his or her disease and current treatments or if they are currently in a survivorship plan. For example, a patient receiving Mesothelioma treatment must be more cautious of activities that apply a greater strain on the heart or lungs while a patient being treated for Bone Cancer would avoid any high impact exercises that could lead to a fracture.
Because of these risks, many people choose to have a trainer help them design an appropriate exercise routine. This is a wonderful idea but it is important to remember that the trainer must understand the specific requirements of cancer patients. According to an article published on the National Cancer Institute’s website, the American Cancer Society has developed a certification program for trainers wishing to help cancer patients and survivors. This program ensures that cancer patients and survivors are receiving the best care possible.
by David Haas. David is a writer for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Please follow David on Twitter @haasblaag.