So it’s no secret that I’ve fallen in love with fitness and working out. I’ve been slacking on the Fitness Friday posts and keeping you all updated, but I try to check in on Instagram almost daily – If you’re interested, I’m lauralou852 there! Anyway, Melanie contacted me last week about guest posting about a study she’s been a part of about the benefits of physical fitness for people going through cancer treatments. Cancer is near and dear to my heart (especially right now – I’ll share more soon and it’s not family or anything, but I’ve fallen in love and have been hanging out with a sweet baby with neuroblastoma) so I’m happy to share her findings.
Physical Fitness and Its Impact on the Lives of Cancer Patients
The importance of physical fitness is often encouraged for the general public to
help people maintain proper health and a functioning body. However, can physical
fitness be beneficial for those diagnosed with cancer? Recent research and studies
prove that regular exercise not only helps prevent cancer, but it also helps elongate
the life of those who have been diagnosed with it. Likewise, cancer survivors can
benefit from exercise tremendously too, as fitness can reduce the chances of cancer
General Benefits of Fitness
Fitness has shown to have the same effects on cancer patients as it does on regular
adults. From maintaining a proper weight to keeping muscles and bones healthy,
physical fitness is equally important for cancer patients. In addition to its physical
benefits, exercise can also help reduce stress and positively affect the mood of
patients going through cancer treatment. Exercise induces the release of endorphins
throughout the body, which can improve the mood and overall quality of life, even for
patients battling aggressive cancers such as mesothelioma or even leukemia.
Some general benefits include:
- Low risk of debilitating diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure
- Decreased fatigue
- Increased energy levels
- Improvement in mood and emotional health
- Stronger bones
- Increased muscle mass and strength
The Effects of Exercise on Numerous Cancers
Different researches have been conducted around the world on specific types of
cancers and some of the results have been intriguing.
One of the most researched form of cancers in relation to physical activity, studies
on colorectal cancer found that exercise could reduce the chances of colon cancer
by 30 to 40 percent. According to the National Cancer Institute, 30 to 60 minutes
of daily exercise can reduce the chances of developing colon cancer. Furthermore,
those who defeat colon cancer also have significantly lower odds of recurrence if
they participate in regular physical activity.
The relationship between breast cancer reduction and regular physical activity has
also been made clear in more than 60 studies throughout the world. These studies
show that breast cancer patients who exercise regularly have a higher survival rate.
Other forms of cancer that responded positively to physical activity include prostate
cancer and endometrial cancer.
When and How to Start Exercising
Many cancer patients often lose the desire to perform any physical activity after
diagnosis. They tend to feel more tired and fatigued, and the stress of the disease
makes it difficult for them to engage in any activity. Research shows that such
feelings must be discarded, and exercise should be taken up regularly after
diagnosis to ease the recovery process and help the body heal.
The cancer patients that were already active before diagnosis should maintain their
level of physical activity. Others should start immediately, either on their own or
through the help of a physical fitness trainer. Partnering with other cancer patients
can also motivate an individual to exercise regularly. If you are not used to high
levels of activity, then start slow until you build up strength over time. At least, the
American Cancer Society recommends 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise. Training
and exercise can include weight training, cardio, aerobics, and stretching exercises.
It is important to consult a doctor before starting an exercise program. Patients need
to ensure they are participating in beneficial activities based on their diagnosis,
treatment regimen, and physical condition.
If you have any questions, I’m sure Melanie can answer them and she has sources for all of the studies she referenced. It’s awesome seeing another positive side of getting healthy and fit and with cancer being as common as it is, I think this knowledge is beneficial for all of us!