The Importance of Regular Exercise for the Cancer Patient

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The following is a guest article from Melanie Bowen regarding exercise for those who have cancer.


Exercise is a key component to living a healthy life, and can be especially important for those battling cancer. Exercise can impact cancer risk as well as the overall health of patients undergoing cancer treatment or survivors who are in remission. Including a regular routine of physical activity has been shown to benefit cancer patients both physically and emotionally at every stage of their diagnosis.

Reap the Physical Benefits

Physically, cancer diagnosis and treatment often result in fatigue and weakness. Exercising regularly, under the observation and guidance of the patient’s medical team, often results in a long list of benefits including:
• Stronger bones and muscles
• Improved stamina and overall energy levels
• Improved circulation and respiration, which improves overall function
• Lower risk of heart disease and diabetes
• Weight management
• Improved immune function

Each cancer diagnosis comes with its own set of challenges. For example, patients suffering from mesothelioma can benefit from achieving more stamina and improved respiration as they work out while breast cancer survivors will appreciate being able to control weight gain once they have undergone treatment for their condition. The amount of exercise and the intensity each patient is able to undertake is different which is why it is very important for patients to be guided and monitored by their medical team as they incorporate exercise routines into their lives.

Don’t Forget the Emotional Improvements

Emotionally, the effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment can include fear, confusion, anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation and sadness. A regular exercise routine can help cancer patients deal with these feelings, helping them control the episodes of anxiety and depression, lessening the feelings of isolation and sadness and generally helping patients feel better and more positive about themselves and their prognosis. A better mood and outlook can help patients feel like they can confront and overcome the challenges they face in their journey from diagnosis, through treatment and into remission.

Incorporating exercise into their routines needs to be a lifelong commitment for cancer patients just like for people who are trying to remain healthy through preventive measures. While the type, amount and intensity of exercise will vary from person to person and even as each person’s condition evolves, physical activity needs to be permanently present in each person’s life.

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