The typical image of a cancer patient is one that can’t handle an exercise routine. When we think of cancer, we associate it with total weakness.
However, strict bedrest for people with cancer is outdated advice that oncologists no longer recommend. Research has proven that inactivity doesn’t help cancer patients and may contribute to fatigue and decreased quality of life.
Mesothelioma is a cancer that can zap energy and impair breathing, two factors that are essential to physical exercise. What can a mesothelioma patient do if they don’t feel up to exercise?
They can avoid inactivity. Integrating gentle exercise on a weekly basis helps people with mesothelioma get a leg up on their cancer.
By exercising, people with cancer can lessen fatigue, improve physical functioning and boost appetite.
Most of people dread physical exercise even though they usually feel better after a workout. This is particularly true for people with health conditions that affect energy levels. How could exerting more energy help with fatigue? It doesn’t appear to make sense.
Though it seems counter-intuitive, exercising improves energy levels and conditions the body to handle more activity. People on chemotherapy can lessen fatigue by staying active. Take walks around the block or house and lift light weights to increase strength.
Exercise is a boon to overall physical functioning for people with cancer, including improvements to strength, distance walked, handgrip, peak oxygen consumption and quality of life.
Research shows exercising boosts lean body mass in cancer patients. Weight loss is strongly associated with poor cancer life expectancies. Those who maintain weight or even put weight on are at an advantage.
Improving overall physical functioning essentially amounts to feeling better in your body. Many people experience less aches and pains and feel stronger or more capable of performing daily tasks, such as chores around the house.
People going through chemotherapy often struggle to maintain an appetite. Chemotherapy attacks quickly dividing cells, and as a result kills cells that line the digestive tract. Digestive upset, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite are normal side effects of chemotherapy.
Exercising naturally boosts appetite. We burn calories when we exercise, and the body needs to replenish the energy burned, hence the increase in appetite.
Cancer patients can use cardiovascular exercise and strength training to boost appetite.
People tend to view exercise with an all-or-nothing approach. In reality, any exercise is better than no exercise.
With the recent popularity of high-intensity exercise, people easily fall into faulty thinking that working out should be hard or you’re not doing it effectively. People with cancer should exercise within their body’s limits.
Anyone undergoing cancer treatment can aim for 20 to 30 minutes of gentle exercise five days a week. Cancer survivors should also get around 150 minutes of exercise a week, and they can engage in moderate-intensity activity if they’re in otherwise good health.
Liano, C. (2010). New guidelines for cancer patients from American College of Sports Medicine: Exercising during & after treatment brings health benefits. Retrieved from http://journals.lww.com/oncology-times/Fulltext/2010/09100/New_Guidelines_for_Cancer_Patients_from_American.3.aspx?trendmd-shared=0
McClellan, R. (2013). Exercise programs for patients with cancer improve physical functioning and quality of life. J Physiother, 59(1):57. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23419919
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