A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a reader associated with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. He offered to write a guest post about the benefits of exercise for cancer patients. Little did he know how important this topic is to me.
Two and a half years ago, a client of mine was diagnosed with colon cancer. She was young (43), exercised regularly and followed a healthy diet. She had no family history of cancer and by all accounts, should not have had this disease. At her insistence, we continued her training in the weeks leading up to the surgery to remove the tumour and all through the subsequent months of chemotherapy.
When a second surgery was deemed necessary (to remove part of her liver, which had become cancerous), she was again adamant that we maintain her twice-weekly workouts. She felt that they raised her energy levels, even on days when she was so tired she couldn’t walk to her children’s school to pick them up. Tragically, she succumbed to cancer at the age of 44, leaving two young children and a grief-stricken husband behind. In the days following her death, I met several of her long-time friends, who credited our training sessions with prolonging her life and extending the time she had left with her family.
Many people don’t think that they have the time to exercise, even though they know that the rewards can be extremely beneficial for both their mind and body. However what most people don’t’ realize is that they may have more time for physical activity than they think. In fact, some people can fit in exercise while they are busy doing other things and don’t even have to make additional time out of their day for it. For example, those who work in office buildings can skip the elevator and take the stairs during to get their heart rate bumping or even park your car at a different lot in the morning to walk the longer route in and give your legs a nice morning brisk walk. Others may find the time to engage in activities that they enjoy, such as a nightly stroll through the park or neighborhood, hitting the gym and getting on the treadmill or taking a dance class a few nights a week; all forms of exercise is better than inactivity at all.
In fact, different forms of exercise that doesn’t even feel strenuous or extremely tiresome are the activities that doctors are recommending their patients try. Even patients with rare forms of cancer such as mesothelioma are encouraged to get off the couch or the elevator and get to walking, swimming, biking, hiking or even dancing. The benefits and positive effects of moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes per week are so beneficial that doctors are telling their patients alongside their cancer treatments that, exercise will give them a better chance at beating the odds of their life threatening disease.
The better a person feels about life, the better they feel about their health. There is a greater chance at having the opportunity to live a healthy life and not succumbing to cancer if patients simply get out and exercise. The hormones and chemicals that the body produces during exercise will boost a person’s immune system, improve their mood and improve their overall health from the inside out.
Those who exercise may potentially feel better as a whole, which is better for their treatment and their outlook on life. Treatments for cancer often include negative side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and even depression. Exercise and fitness can help to alleviate these symptoms so that they are barely noticeable, less frequent or even become completely non-existent. There is no reason why everyone shouldn’t be participating in some form of exercise, especially those that are living and fighting for their life against cancer. The benefits are too helpful to ignore; so get out there, consult your doctor about a workout plan that suits you and fight back cancer through activity!