Cancer patients often undergo a slew of emotional and physical changes. Lack of physical activity and social life can make treatment and recovery difficult. This is why it is important that cancer patients exercise to improve mental and physical health. Regular exercise can improve quality of life by creating an outlet for stress and anxiety while at the same time, keeping patients in tip-top shape. Emotional difficulty surrounding cancer diagnosis and treatment is common. Mood swings and depression tend to create a lack of interest in physical activity. By pushing through these feelings and simply going for a walk, cancer patients can heighten mood and battle chronic depression by raising serotonin levels within the brain. Serotonin is known as the “feel good” hormone that stimulates feelings of happiness, satisfaction and excitement. Physical activity teamed with sunlight increase serotonin production, instantly transforming anger, sadness and anxiety into a sense of well-being. This is helpful for people with all types of cancers including breast, liver and rare forms like mesothelioma.
The physical benefits to exercise can increase cancer treatment effectiveness. When patients undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy, nausea, fatigue and decreased circulation are common. Exercise counteracts these effects by increasing the heart rate thus causing circulation to increase and energy levels to be restored. The digestive system also kicks into gear, and helps reduce feelings of nausea and dizziness. Muscles and bones are strengthened by lifting light weights or using resistance bands, allowing patients to carry on daily routines and remain active despite a cancer diagnosis. This leads to greater independence and the chance to socialize more often, outside of the home. With these added benefits, patients are also less likely to gain weight or suffer from weak muscle function.
The American Council on Exercise recommends that cancer patients aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days per week. To stay motivated, patients can make exercise a family affair or friendly get-together. Exercising with a small group or simply one partner, keeps both individuals focused on the task at hand. The key to effective exercise programs is to just have fun. Activities that many patients enjoy can immediately spice up any exercise routine. Dancing, playing with children in the yard or a nature walk are all ideal ways to fit in physical activity and make it interesting.
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.
*Liz recently contacted me with this great submission. Thanks for sharing these great thoughts Liz … keep up the good work. – KI (aka – Pumba)