This article comes to you by my guest blogger, David Haas, who recently has been researching and writing about how beneficial cancer support networks and also staying physically fit is to people going through treatments, in remission, and even family members of cancer patients. It is our hope that each one of you who reads this will be inspired to stay active through your course of treatment for cancer.
When you are fighting cancer, you get serious about your health very quickly. You willingly endure difficult treatments, constant check-ups, and endless waits for test results – all with the goal of getting healthy. But it’s amazing how many cancer patients fail to follow a regular exercise routine, even though exercise has been proven to improve general health and to provide the physical and emotional boosts that can be useful in a fight against cancer.
Exercise strengthens your heart, stimulates the production of adrenaline, and can dramatically improve your energy levels. If you are currently receiving cancer treatments, you know that energy is a very valuable commodity. Treatments such as chemotherapy can cause severe fatigue, making even the most routine tasks seem insurmountable. By sticking with a regular exercise program – even if it’s just some light walking each day – you can regain some of the energy you lose during treatment. You will have the pep you need to socialize with loved ones and participate in your favorite activities.
Fighting cancer can be psychologically taxing, and exercise has been proven to promote a sense of happiness and well being. Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which travel to the receptors in your brain and act as mood enhancers. Staying upbeat is critical to fighting cancer, and endorphins can play a crucial role in giving you the positive outlook you need.
Cancer treatments can compromise your immune system, leaving you less able to fight infections and other common illnesses. But exercise has been proven to boost the body’s immune system by flushing away harmful bacteria and by increasing the activity of white blood cells. According to the National Cancer Institute, studies have shown that people who exercise regularly may be less likely to develop certain types of cancer, and researchers have speculated that this is due to the positive effects exercise has on the immune system.
Be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Your doctor can help you design an exercise regimen, or may know about exercise classes specifically designed for people fighting cancer. With certain types of cancer that target the lungs, such as mesothelioma, the thought of beginning and sticking with an exercise program may be intimidating. But your doctor or physical therapist should be able to show you some low-impact exercises that will keep you moving without causing you to lose your breath.