I am super excited about today’s post!! I have for all of you a guest post from Melanie Bowen. She has researched and written an article about the benefits of regular exercise while battling cancer. There is some great onfo here and linked resources. I urge you to pass this on so that maybe we can help people suffering from this horrible disease.
When Melanie contacted me and told me about her article I was very honored that she chose me and my blog to share this on. So without further ado, here is her fantastic article:
The Benefits of Regular Exercise for those Battling Cancer
There is no getting around it, recovering from cancer is a long, painful, exhausting process. When your body seems to be fighting against you so strongly, and you feel so weak all the time, maintaining fitness can be extremely difficult. While it is important to always follow your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to exercise, if he gives the go ahead, keeping up with some amount of exercise during the recovery process can not only help you feel better during the course of it, but ultimately speed up your return to normalcy once you are all better.
For those undergoing the most aggressive cancer treatments, you will want to keep the exercise very light. Exercise, by definition, stresses the body so it rebuilds itself stronger – but those patients with serious cancer cannot risk stressing the body any more than the treatment already is. The focus of light exercises here is simply to keep the body moving at all.
Light stretching can help one remain flexible and mobile despite being bedridden for long stretches. The slightly increased breathing that comes with stretching can aid those with a lung-related cancer treatments such as mesothelioma and the movement reduces effects of lymphedema, a side effect of some breast cancer surgeries that results in painful swelling. Remaining at all mobile through light stretching can help you improve flexibility, reduce fatigue, improve sleep, and even help keep depression and feelings of negativity at bay.
Once recovery starts to begin, exercises can be increased to a moderate level. The goal of moderate exercise should be a light sweat after ten minutes of working out. One common choice at this stage is yoga. Practicing yoga can decrease fatigue and improve overall physical functioning, and has a noticeable effect on reducing both pain and stress levels. Since yoga classes are social, they can also have a profound mental effect on a recovering patient – many cancer centers are even starting to offer their own classes on-site.
The light physical activity and mental calmness associated with yoga can keep one flexible and dramatically improve the outlook of a recovering patient, often becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy and speeding recovery.
Once in the later stages of recovery, a patient will be seeking to regain some of their former strength and vitality and can again focus not on simple maintenance, but overall body improvement. Here is when a patient can again resume weight training to rebuild muscle lost due to the treatment and excessive bed rest from earlier stages of recovery. While like with any resistance training program one should start slowly and build up over time, the gains in muscle mass and reduction in fat can improve body image substantially and provide the strength needed to finish off the cancer once and for all.
Again, especially when recovering from cancer, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. But even if the exercises are not as intense as when you were young and healthy, and the lighter motions feel almost pointless, remember that they are not: any amount of movement and activity is vastly preferable to none, you will feel better throughout the recovery process, and your body will thank you with a faster, less unpleasant recovery.