Sunday, December 11, 2011

Guest Post from Liz Davies

Fitness Encouragement for Cancer Patients
Those undergoing cancer treatments may feel like the therapy are more demanding than the actual disease. Treatments can drain their energy levels and make them feel lethargic all of the time. Other symptoms include feeling sick and nauseous. This is not the lifestyle that anyone wants to live so it is beneficial to know that there are ways to help lessen the effects. Exercise is a great way for cancer patients to reclaim strength and overall wellbeing.
Firstly, physical activity can help people by increasing their muscle and enabling them to become stronger. Often during chemotherapy and radiation muscle is turned into fat so it is important to combat this with strength training if possible. The added strength from doing exercises will allow patients to have more independence and show them that life can still be extremely fulfilling during this time in their life. Any type of physical activity gets the heart moving and blood flowing. The increased heart rate allows patients to feel less lethargic.
Not only is exercise beneficial for physical reasons but it also increases emotional well-being. An improved mood, decreased level of stress, increased self-confidence all help battle the common occurrence of depression that many cancer patients become susceptible to.
What are the best exercises for cancer patients? There is not a specific answer for that. It depends on the type and severity of the cancer and the level of fitness the patient is in. One type of exercise that is usually good for everyone is stretching. There are different ways of accomplishing this but Tai Chi, Pilates and Yoga are common forms that can be changed for different levels of physical fitness. Increased flexibility is important to amplify blood flow and keep muscles and joints active. Another type of exercise that has in the past been avoided is strength training. Muscle is lost so strength training is very important. Types of this exercise include working with resistance bands or lifting weights. Even putting the household groceries is a way to keep the muscles moving in the body. As patients gain more energy cardio exercises like walking, swimming and running are found enjoyable and help manage weight gain.
Motivation is something that may be hard to come across during cancer treatments. Staying positive and setting goals are important ways to stay motivated. Small goals like walking around the block, taking the stairs instead of the elevator are even helpful and prove to themselves that the goals are attainable. It is important to choose exercises that will be found enjoyable so they will be easily fit into a daily routine.
These ideas and tips are ideal for people going through any type of cancer treatment, whether that is mesothelioma or pancreatic cancer. But as always when starting an exercise routine it is important to consult with a doctor or in this case a trainer that specialized and is certified in working with cancer patients.

Liz Davies is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer especially interested in health and wellness. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives because she sees how cancer has devastated so many people in this world. Liz also likes running, playing lacrosse, reading and playing with her dog, April. 

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