Friday, October 28, 2011

Guest Article: The Importance of Physical Activity During Cancer

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and as an introduction to my new section on Health, I am happy to feature an article by guest Author David Haas.

The Importance of Physical Activity During Cancer

For decades, the prevailing belief in the medical community was that exercise was unhealthy, even detrimental, for people suffering from cancer. In recent years, however, numerous studies have provided irrefutable evidence that that the exact opposite is true. Exercise is absolutely extremely useful to people undergoing treatment for cancer. Exercise after cancer is just as important, and is associated with a significant decrease in the likelihood of recurrence.

The benefits of beginning or maintaining physical activity during cancer treatment are numerous, and can have a profound impact. The natural mood enhancing effects of exercise help to foster a positive attitude, keep depression at bay and improve quality of life. Engaging in regular physical activity has been reported to fight the more unpleasant side effects of treatment, such as nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and aches and pains. It has also been shown that increased energy levels may make treatment more effective.

Consistent physical activity boosts the immune system, allowing the body an opportunity to fight against the cancer in a natural way. This increase in immunity is especially important for people who undergo radiation, since they tend to have compromised immune systems. This may also help with postoperative recovery and to reduce the possibility of subsequent infection.

Another huge benefit of exercising is weight loss. Excess weight is not only linked to several types of cancer on its own, but it makes the recurrence of cancer far more likely. Patients with hormone-based cancers usually suffer from weight gain, and can benefit greatly from staying active.

Physical activity is not without its benefits during treatment as it helps the body to adapt to using a single lung and increases the efficiency of oxygen use. Patients with mesothelioma are not likely to be able to engage in the same intensity or types of exercise as people with common types of cancer like breast cancer, but they can still engage in light activity like walking and yoga.

It is recommended that any exercise be of moderate or light intensity. Vigorous exercise strains the body and may exacerbate side effects, as well as suppressing the immune system. Although physical activity shows the most benefit in the early stages of cancer, it still helps late stage patients stay independent longer while providing feelings of well being.

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