Recently I have had a number of people in my life diagnosed with some sort of cancer. It seems this disease in its many forms is ever present.
I was approached by David Haas, a cancer support group and awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance after he had been following my posts and he wanted to share some information of his own. So here it is. I hope you find it helpful.
Exercise and Active Substitutes Fight Fatigue and Other Cancer Symptoms
Can mesothelioma cancer patients exercise during treatment? Is exercise safe for breast cancer patients after surgery? Can people with leukemia engage in physical activities? The answer to these questions is “yes,” pending doctor approval.
Traditionally, cancer doctors prescribed limited physical activity and plenty of rest for their patients. But modern clinical research shows that exercise is both safe and possible for cancer patients. In fact, physical fitness is now highly recommended for people with most types of cancer.
Exercise, Cancer, And Fatigue
Extreme fatigue is one of the most bothersome symptoms of mesothelioma, breast cancer, leukemia, and other types of cancer. Physical exercise does not seem like a logical way to combat this fatigue. But a 2009 study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that exercise might be the best solution. The research showed that physical activity among leukemia patients greatly reduced symptoms of fatigue and depression, while it also improved heart health and quality of life.
This is good news, not only for people with leukemia, but for all cancer patients. Similar studies show that the health benefits are universal. Most patients can engage in some type of physical activity, depending on their age, fitness, cancer type, cancer stage, and treatment method. And they will reap significant health benefits. Unless they experience pain, breathing difficulties, or heart rate problems from exercise, patients should not hesitate to get moving.
Exercise Recommendations For Cancer Patients
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the best physical fitness programs include aerobic activity for the heart and lungs, flexibility exercises for the joints and muscles, and strength training for the bones and muscles. Cancer patients can benefit from even small amounts of activity, scattered throughout the day. Small steps are always the best place to start, and regular exercise is easy to accomplish when patients realize the implications for cancer treatment and recovery.
People who exercise at moderate intensity levels should get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week, or thirty minutes a day for five days. Those who exercise vigorously can cut that number to 75. Most physical fitness programs combine intensity levels and spread the activity throughout the week.
Active Substitutes For Exercise
Of course, some patients are unable to participate in a full-fledged fitness program. Breathing difficulties, heart rate issues, or recovery from surgery may limit the types of exercise they can do. The ACS suggests several “active substitutes” that most patients can easily handle.
Walking, dancing, and active vacations are good substitutes for physical exercise. Other substitutes include walking instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and riding a stationery bike while watching television. The important thing is that cancer patients are active throughout the day.