The following article was written by a fellow blogger, Melanie Bowen. Melanie is currently a Master’s student with a passion that stems from her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.
Benefits of Exercising During and After Cancer Treatment
Whether your diagnosis is mesothelioma, leukemia, lymphoma, or any of the other forms of cancer, fitness can make a difference. While exercise alone may not cure you, it can aid your body’s natural healing abilities. There are many reasons a fitness program can help you during your battle with cancer.
Creating a Positive Mindset
One of the most important things you can do for your body is to develop a positive mindset. When faced with a scary diagnosis, this may seem difficult to do. However, there is a lot of evidence that our mental state affects our ability to heal. This is called mind-body medicine and, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there is a measurable correlation between mood and health.
Exercise is one of the most efficient ways to improve your mindset. During exercise, the body is flooded with oxygen and the brain releases endorphins that naturally improve health and mood. You do not need to spend hours in the gym each day. In fact, you should start out with just short sets so that you do not become overly tired or injure yourself. Speak with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program. Other medical issues you may have can determine what level of exercise is suitable for you.
Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Gong
Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Gong are all known for their mind and body benefits. Practicing these increases oxygen in the blood, increases range of motion in the extremities, and contributes to a calmer mind. No matter what your current fitness level is, these exercises can be adapted to your needs. Some Yoga and Chi Gong forms may even be performed while lying down.
Energy levels often plummet during cancer treatment. Aerobic exercise raises energy levels by flooding the body with oxygen and strengthening the heart and lungs. Low-impact aerobic activities are easiest on the joints – these activities include bicycling, using a rowing machine and walking.
Many have trouble eating during some cancer treatments. This can cause rapid weight loss, which may include a loss of muscle. Strength training helps prevent some muscle loss, and strengthens both the bones and the muscles. Examples of strength training include push-ups, squats, working with resistance bands, and using weights.
Start your fitness program as soon as possible. During treatment, it will help you feel better both physically and mentally. After your cancer treatment, exercise can help you regain your strength and energy.