The Power of Exercise

Exercise has a powerful effect on both the prevention and treatment of cancer, yet in many cases, understandably, physical fitness regimens don’t make it to the top of the list when it comes to conversations with one’s oncologist.

“If a cancer patient is having trouble with fatigue, rather than looking for extra cups of coffee, a nap, or a pharmaceutical solution, consider a 15-minute walk.” Karen Mustian, University of Rochester Medical Center, Journal of the American Medical Association.

Physical activity can be an important part of the cancer treatment process and speed up recovery.

During treatment-contrary as it may seem to the patient-just spending less time sitting down can help. Taking short walks, and other forms of low-impact physical activity, can:

  1. Reduce tiredness and some treatment-related side effects
  2. Improve your mood and quality of life by reducing anxiety and depression
  3. Strengthen your muscles, joints, and bones
  4. Strengthen your heart, reducing the risk of other health problems

It’s important not to overexert and risk injuring yourself. Listen to your body; take time to rest if needed. A few minutes of exercise per day is better than not exercising at all, and as your stamina increases, you’ll be able to complete more challenging workouts. Exercise helps boost your immune system, speeding up the recovery process or simply making the experience more endurable.

Add to what you’re already doing

Adding extra steps to your day-taking the long way home, as it were-counts as additional exercise.

  • Rather than loading yourself up like a forklift to get your groceries inside all at once, make individual trips to burn more calories
  • Steadily increase the intensity of your tasks
  • Increase heart rate and breathing-think about your breathing this way: for moderate-intensity activities, you should be able to talk, but not sing

Make sure it’s challenging

Change comes only after challenge. If you usually take the stairs twice a day, take them four times a day next week.

Keep building, adding more and new exercises. Morph that walk across the parking lot to a walk across the neighborhood. The more you put out, the more you get back. The key thing to keep in mind is that it’s all about moving more. Take some music with you; take a friend; make it fun. Your mood will improve and your body will thank you.

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