Guest Writer: Melanie Bowen
Staying Fit for the Fight: How Fitness Can Help Cancer Patients
The importance of fitness is difficult to underestimate. Whether you have a clean bill of health or have recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, getting regular exercise is an essential part of your life. For anyone who has ever heard those fateful words, “You have cancer.” maintaining a healthy fitness level may be even more vital.
In the past, doctors used to recommend that cancer patients rest and avoid physical exertion, but current research indicates that those who have been diagnosed with cancer can reap many benefits from regular exercise. These advantages may include:
* Weight control
* Improve circulation and blood flow
* Lower risk of heart disease
* Decreased risk of osteoporosis
* Increased independence
* Elevated mood and lower levels of anxiety and depression
* Less nausea
* Less fatigue
* Maintain or improve range of motion
While this list certainly provides sufficient motivation for remaining active following a cancer diagnosis, you may have questions about what fitness level is right for you. Generally, experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of continual activity five times a week. Your type of cancer as well as the treatment you are undergoing may affect your physical abilities, however, it is always best to consult your doctor before making any radical changes to your physical activity. Your oncologist and cancer support staff can recommend exercise routines and also connect you with trainers and programs specifically targeted toward cancer patients.
Once you have been declared cancer free, you should continue with a regular fitness program. Several studies have recently indicated that cancer survivors who incorporate regular exercise into their lifestyle have a significantly lower recurrence rate. Other studies indicate that survivors of certain types of cancer who exercise live longer than those who do not.
Whether you first heard your cancer diagnosis today or several years ago, your personal health relies in some degree on your personal fitness. Your oncology staff will do all they can to help you, but only you can make the choice and the effort to exercise regularly.
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