[Guest Post]: Exercise and the Recovering Cancer Patient

Thanks to our friend Melanie for being our guest blogger today! We couldn’t agree more that exercise can have positive physical and mental impacts on those undergoing cancer treatment.

Cancer treatment can take a toll on a cancer patient’s body and sense of well being. It can decrease energy levels and muscle strength. An effective and fun way to combat these effects is to start a fitness routine. You can start off slow and build your strength and endurance by following a few simple steps.

Light Activity
If you have serious cancer and are undergoing aggressive treatment, you will want to start out with a few simple exercises. You can start out with breathing exercises. These breathing techniques are great to start your fitness routine or to add to an existing one. Remember, when you are doing light exercise, you should not break a sweat, be out of breath, and you should be able to carry on a conversation.

There are many breathing exercises that range from beginner levels to advanced levels. You will want to keep them simple and pay attention, focusing on each inhale and exhale. This will help improve your respiratory function and allow you to take in more oxygen. Often, light breathing exercises are ideal for those undergoing treatment for mesothelioma or other cancers that may impede lung functioning. This will help reduce fatigue and improve your lung capabilities.

Moderate Activity
After you have started to regain your strength, you can start to move up to moderate exercises. In this category, you will start to sweat after ten minutes of working out. You will also have to breathe faster because your body will be working harder, but you should not get out of breath. You must make sure that you do not over do your workout at this stage.

A great moderate level of exercise to start out with is biking. Biking is fun and improves your immune system, cardiovascular fitness, and mental health. Not only do you get the physical benefits, but it also makes you feel better emotionally. In addition, biking can be done virtually anywhere with minimal equipment required. Biking is good on your joints and will help you to build muscle to fight cancer.

It is up to you individually to determine how long you stay at each level. Since everyone progresses at a different rate, you will have to monitor your progress to see when it is time to move to the next level.

Intense Activity
Once you have experience doing a routine consisting of moderate exercises, it is finally time to try some advanced exercises. Save these for when you are in the later stages of your cancer recovery and have built up enough muscle strength and endurance. When performing these exercises, your breathing will become deep and rapid and you will develop a sweat after only a few minutes.

Aerobics are a well-rounded exercise that you can start with. This exercise strengthens your heart, lungs, and muscles. It also improves brain function and emotional health. In addition, aerobics are a great way to combat treatment-related fatigue. Aerobics gives you the best of both worlds; it builds muscle and provides a great cardio session at the same time!

Starting a fitness routine gives you a multitude of benefits, especially if you are recovering from cancer. It is important to track your progress so that you will stay motivated and not be tempted to quit. A good idea would be to record your strength and endurance levels at various times in a fitness journal. Also, you may want to write how you felt after each work out. If you ever get the urge to stop working out, just read your fitness journal and remember how great you felt after working out. The key to success while recovering from cancer is to stay focused and keep looking forward.

Melanie Bowen 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. To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.

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