Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guest Article: Exercise Proves to Be Highly Beneficial for Cancer Patients

So, a few months ago Liz approached me to guest write on my blog. I know, right? Does that mean I'm cool now? Ha! I *love* her article. If you like it be sure and show her some love in the comments!!


Cancer patients face a range of emotions upon the diagnosis. Unfortunately, an unintended side effect is patients becoming sedentary when hearing the diagnosis of cancer. Formerly active patients sometimes abandon exercise routines with their new primary focus being on the illness and treatment. This is a mistake as exercise is highly beneficial to cancer patients.

 Cancer patients that have never adopted an exercise routine greatly benefit from doing so while undergoing cancer treatment and continue it after the illness has gone into remission. Suggestive evidence states that patients exercising regularly have a lower risk of recurrence. During treatment exercise is highly beneficial to combat many physical and psychological effects of treatment.

 Those exercising during treatment have a greater quality of life, sleep better, feel more self-confident and do not put on excessive weight from certain systematic treatments. Added health benefits include lower levels of fatigue and nausea, reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis and less reports of severe depression. Depression over the diagnosis and the major life change it brings causes people to slow down when they need most to keep moving, keeping their body healthy and their outlook positive.

 Some cancers call for specific attention to certain exercises. Gastrointestinal, head and neck cancers lead to loss of muscle mass to the point that range of motion is decreased. Those undergoing treatment for these types of cancer benefit from exercises that build lean muscle mass such as barbell curls and squats. 

 Breast cancer patients are at odds with weight gain due to increased appetite due to corticosteroids, taken to combat nausea, causing increased appetite. Another factor is that chemotherapy sometimes leads to early menopause in younger cancer patients, making their metabolism slow down, causing weight gain. Breast cancer patients benefit from weight loss exercises such as brisk walking, cycling and jogging. Pilates is also a favorite of many breast cancer patients. Pilates builds strength and flexibility and deepens the mind and body connection, making it a great exercise for any cancer patient well after treatment. Breast cancer patients often deal with the onset of lymphedema, which is a building up of lymph after breast cancer surgery. Moving muscle by exercising moves lymph fluids which prevents the lymph build-up.

 So far breast cancer has been the most thoroughly researched when it comes to its correlation with exercise. After seeing positive results other cancers are now being looked into more like lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and peritoneal mesothelioma.

 Doctors often fear overwhelming newly diagnosed cancer patients by influencing them to begin a fitness routine. This makes it important that patients do their own research if not lead by their medical professional. Of course, any fitness plan must be approved by the oncologist prior to a patient beginning.

 Liz Davies is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer especially interested in health and wellness. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives because she sees how cancer has devastated so many people in this world. Liz also likes running, playing lacrosse, reading and playing with her dog, April.

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