Why exercise is important for cancer patients

Exercising while suffering from cancer may seem like an impossible feat. Cancer is usually an extremely debilitating disease that requires a lot of care and limited activity. Moreover, the chemotherapy and other treatments used to combat the illness bring severe side effects that can sap the energy of cancer patients. It is also commonly thought that rest is the prescription for recovery for individuals suffering from a serious illness such as cancer. 

However, these are misconceptions that can get in the way of the cancer patient's recovery. Modern medicine supports the fact that exercise actually benefits cancer-stricken patients. As a result, by no means should the patient stop all physical activity because of cancer. Regardless of a person’s health condition, exercise is always a boon if done in the right manner and frequency.

For instance, research findings have shown a link between exercise and reduced risk of cancer. This is because exercise makes a person physically fit and acts as a natural protection not just against cancer but also heart disease, diabetes, and other serious illnesses. Physical activity also has a positive role in regulating hormonal metabolism and in enhancing immunity levels against carcinogens. These benefits are evident in physically active postmenopausal women, who enjoy reduced risk of breast cancer, since their lifestyles help maintain healthy hormone levels.  

Studies have also shown that cancer patients and survivors benefit greatly from exercise. Exercise helps reduce fatigue and other side effects of of chemotherapy. Physical activity is especially helpful for patients undergoing mesothelioma treatment since it builds stamina and resistance, which are important in protecting the body’s already compromised state against other complications. Even a light exercise regimen, such as walking three to five hours a week, will help boost survival rates of cancer patients. Exercise also reduces the likelihood of recurrence.

Equally important are the psychological benefits of exercise. Exercise has provided not only enhanced stamina but also emotional empowerment. It boosts optimism levels and brings forth a positive attitude, which are vital in resisting the progress of the disease. In addition, physical activity can provide an opportunity to interact with others and thus a normalized atmosphere, which prevents the patient from feeling depressed about his predicament. As a result of, exercise improves the quality of life for cancer patients. Combined with other healthy practices, such as a proper diet, wholesome home environment, and emotional support from loved ones, exercise provides a foundation for a successful outcome in a patient’s battle with cancer.

More studies are ongoing to discover more definitive relationships between exercise and cancer. Perhaps someday experts will be able to determine specific exercise regimens that will help increase the rates of survival for the various types of cancer.

Written and contributed by David Haas - Thank you David!

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