27 October 2011

Taking Steps toward Fitness, Wellness and Fighting Cancer

I wanted to share this article with you from guest blogger, David Haas.  It's about the benefits of fitness & eating healthy during and after a diagnosis of any kind of cancer.  We all know that each type of cancer has its limtations, but if we can keep a healthy body, we have a better chance of overcoming this awful disease. 

I was encouraged to post this, tonight especially, because I just returned from our Kick Off Meeting for Team In Her Shoes.  Those in attendance saw the benefits of "getting up and getting our move on!" in order to help against the fight for cancer and enthusiastically signed up for the walk.  

Although there are only a couple survivors on our team (me being one), we all discussed how cancer has touched ALL our lives. So we've committed to walking in next year's 39 mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  And we've committed to getting healthy along the way.  It's a great combination: A great cause, a commitment to eat right, and MOVE!  A win/win!  There are, at this time, 15 of us signed up for Team In Her Shoes! I am blessed to be in the company of such caring and compassionate women and men. 
Here is David Haas' article!  Feel free to leave your comments!

Exercise and Fitness for Cancer Patients

If you are suffering from cancer or undergoing cancer treatment, it is crucial that you keep working your muscles as much as possible. Usually cancer patients require a lot of bed rest and this can weaken muscles, stiffen joints, cause breathing problems, and result in mental changes.

That National Cancer Institute recommends moderate exercise, such as walking every day for 30 minutes, as it helps reduce fatigue, pain, nausea, diarrhea, anxiety and depression associated with the treatment and disease. Exercise also helps to enhance mood, reduce the chances of recurrence, and helps to increase survivability. However, before you embark on an exercise routine, consult your oncologist.

The oncologist takes into account the patient's fitness level before the diagnosis, the current energy levels, the type of cancer the patient is suffering from and the treatment he/she is undergoing before developing an exercise regimen. To start with, the exercise can be just simple stretching exercises that help to exercise joints. These can be performed in bed by the patient without help from someone, or by the caregiver. Gradually, as the patient feels stronger, the exercise may get more vigorous, such as walking, swimming or cycling. Exercise also helps cancer patients combat the side effects of cancer therapies and increases the feeling of well-being. However, the patients should not overexert themselves or they risk other complications.

Whether a patient is suffering from breast cancer or an uncommon disease like mesothelioma, exercise will benefit that person in different forms.

It is best to start exercising as soon as possible after cancer diagnosis and treatment. Studies show that cancer patients tend to slow down after diagnosis. Fatigue, depression, anxiety and feeling nauseated from the disease or treatment make patients less active. And, most patients end up leading a sedentary life. However, to combat these side effects of the disease and treatment, exercise is a must; and it also helps in the recovery process.

Since every patient is different, a different set of exercises is recommended. Cancer survivors benefit from weight training and aerobics, while cancer patients should try doing flexibility exercises initially before moving to more vigorous exercises. It is best to opt for activities that you enjoy and it may also help to exercise with another person, who has the same fitness level as you. Working with an exercise buddy will help keep you motivated.

However, if fatigue overtakes you, it is advisable to rest for some time rebuilt your energy levels. Then attempt to do the exercise again, but slowly.

While the benefits of exercise for cancer patients are immense, it can also result in strains, soreness and sprains. So, be careful while doing the exercises. At the same time, no patient goes through cancer treatment to spend time lying on the bed. Talk to your oncologist today and set an exercise regimen that you can do every day, or at least 5 days a week.

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