Patricia Sarmiento :: I’m going to show you 4 Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients. It’s hard to imagine anyone tougher than someone who is fighting cancer. Not only are they enduring a very physically difficult battle, but the illness can take an emotional toll as well. One of the things many doctors recommend is for cancer patients to try to maintain as active a lifestyle as possible after they receive their diagnosis and begin treatment. And while you should always consult your physician about which activities are safe for you, once you get the green light from your doc, there are many ways exercise can benefit cancer patients. Here are a few perks:
You will feel more energized. Although this idea may seem counterintuitive, research has shown that cancer patients who exercise regularly at a moderate level experience 40% to 50% less fatigue. Exercise gets your heart pumping and increases blood flow, alerting your muscles and organs to “wake up” and perform at a higher level than when your body is at rest. Try working out in the morning shortly after waking to start your day off on the right foot.
Exercise helps ward off depression and anxiety symptoms. The mood-boosting benefits of exercise are meaningful to everyone no matter what their level of health may be. Those undergoing treatment for cancer, however, are particularly prone to feeling highly stressed or depressed, and can benefit greatly from the surge of endorphins to the brain that comes with physical exercise. Even a brisk 15-minute walk can feel instantly uplifting if you feel too tired or ill to try something more challenging.
Low-impact exercise can help ease physical pain. Exercises that don’t put a lot of stress on joints but still give your muscles and heart a healthy workout will give you the same benefits of high-impact exercise but don’t cause strain. Swimming in particular has been shown to improve chronic and recurring pain, due in large part to the inherent buoyancy of water and the gentle stretching that naturally occurs as you move through the pool.
Your risk of recurrence may be reduced. According to this article from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one study suggested that physical activity greatly reduced the risk of recurrence or even death in patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer. This resource also points out that gone are the days of doctors ordering their cancer patients to bedrest – generally, most are now encouraging some level of activity to those under their care for the many benefits exercise may provide.
While fitting in a workout may feel like an unfathomable task some days, there are actually several benefits to finding some form of physical activity you can do. For many, the emotional and physical perks speak for themselves. And for others, the simple fact that they can focus on something besides illness is reason enough to take a short walk or a quick dip.
Patricia Sarmiento loves swimming and running. She channels her love of fitness and wellness into blogging about health and health-related topics. She played sports in high school and college and continues to make living an active lifestyle a goal for her and her family. She lives with her husband, two children, and their Shih Tzu in Maryland.