Sunday, June 2, 2013

Guest post: Exercise during cancer recovery

 Today's blog post is written by Melanie Bowen.
Melanie is currently a Master's student with a passion that stems from her grandmother's cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness.  To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.


Exercise During Cancer Recovery

The diagnosis is enough to send your brain reeling. When you're diagnosed with cancer, it is typically followed up with a series of tests and days filled with doctors. It is truly a life-changer and you may start to question everything you do. Should you keep your diet the same? Can you keep up with your exercise routine? Should you even exercise at all? It is important to follow the recommendations of your physician, and there are always exceptions, but cancer may not be your excuse to get out of breaking a little sweat! Depending on where you are in your recovery will affect what type of exercise is best. We'll break that down a little further to help you get started.

Light Exercise

Patients undergoing aggressive treatment for mesothelioma or other lung-related cancers can perform light exercise. Light stretching is an example of a simple light exercise. As long as you maintain your normal breathing and chat with a friend easily while performing the activity, it falls into this category. Stretching can be done while standing or sitting down, depending on your condition. If you are confined to a chair it may be as simple as raising your arms up overhead or reaching behind your back for several repetitions.

It might sound simple, but the benefits are far-reaching. Light stretching can ease depression and fatigue. Stretching obviously increases flexibility, but it also boosts feelings of tranquility while physically challenging your body so you are able to get a better night's sleep.

Moderate Exercise

You've recently completed your cancer treatment and are ready to start building up your strength. With a moderate exercise program you'll break a sweat after about 10 minutes and can still chat with your friend, but your breathing will be more rapid. Water aerobics or aquatic exercise is a wonderful place to start. The buoyancy of the water eases stress on your joints but the resistance of the water works your muscles no matter which direction you move. It is safer for raising your body temperature because you dissipate heat more effectively in the water. It is a fun way to increase your strength and flexibility while regulating your weight. Exercising in the water is also a good way to enhance your stamina.

Advanced Exercise

This level is for those who are in the advanced phase of recovery and would like to get the spring back in their step. Weight training is an excellent method to achieve this goal. Your body becomes more powerful while you feel more energized. Lifting weights increases bone density and muscle, which will help burn more fat. It is especially beneficial if you have had stomach or prostate cancer, which can cause you to lose muscle mass at an alarming rate. Using exercise machines at a gym are a great way to get started. The machine helps you maintain good body mechanics to avoid injury and it's easy to track your progress. Free weights are also easy to use and can be very effective when combined with moves like lunges or squats.

Cancer can be scary enough without stripping you of everything normal in your life. Exercise is a great way to boost your energy and your spirit. The benefits of exercise greatly outweigh its conveniences. Actively participating in a fitness program is also a way to keep feeling more like you.

P.S. Today (Sunday 2nd June) is National Cancer Survivor Day, just thought I'd mention it.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great story of encouragement for everyone. God sustains us through life's good times and bad times. He offers a higher way of living -- not a life without pain, but the strength to endure. Great job!

    South Orange County Cancer Recovery