Exercise benefits people with all forms and stages of cancer. Oncologists can recommend the best programs for their patients. It may be hard for men with advanced mesothelioma to do anything more than walk across the room, due to breathing difficulties. And women are consigned to basic physical therapy and breathing exercises following breast cancer surgery. The intensity and duration of exercise will differ for each person, but almost everyone can do something during cancer.
The Benefits Of A Cancer Fitness Program
Exercise benefits everyone, and it is essential for cancer recovery. Patients can do a lot more than they think, even during chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Certain physical tasks may be too hard for some, but physical therapists and personal trainers can design realistic programs for their patients.
The National Cancer Institute describes exercise as a “critical component of energy balance” which, along with diet and weight, influences health. Exercise controls weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels; maintains healthy bones, muscles, and joints; strengthens the lungs and heart; and promotes emotional well being. Copious research links exercise to reduced cancer risk, increased survivorship, and improved life quality.
Three Components Of A Cancer Fitness Program
Medical experts note three important components to a cancer fitness program -- flexibility exercise, aerobic activity, and strength training. Stretching keeps joints and muscles limber, which is essential for people who are bedridden for long periods of time.
Aerobic exercise, known as “cardio” in the gym, is anything that works up a sweat, increases the heart rate, and gets the blood pumping. Jogging, bicycling, and swimming are good aerobic activities for people with cancer. Cancer treatments zap the strength, but strength training combats this side effect with muscle building. It keeps patients strong for the fight. Isometric exercises or lifting weights are good ways to get this type of exercise.
The American Cancer Society recommends between 30 and 45 minutes of exercise, five or more days a week. The exercise should be moderately to vigorously intense. As each cancer experience is unique, patients should talk to their oncologist before starting a cancer fitness program.