Thursday, March 29, 2012


Physical fitness is increasingly being viewed as a highly effective way to improve the quality of life of cancer patients. Regardless of whether you have just been diagnosed, are undergoing treatment, or are in remission, increasing your level of physical fitness will bring multiple positive benefits into your life. Exercise improves brain function, mood, energy levels and even sleep quality.

If you are not currently in good physical shape in terms of your fitness, it is one of the best things you can do for your body, especially now that you have been diagnosed with cancer. Even tough cancers like mesothelioma are easier to fight when you have more energy, sleep better, and have an immune system that works properly.

People who exercise tend to have more energy throughout the day. When you are undergoing treatment, you may often have feelings of extreme fatigue that prevent you from getting things done, spending time with family and friends, and just enjoying life. Physical exercise will boost your energy levels. It does this by raising your metabolic level- the rate at which you burn energy. This leads to fat loss, a trimmer figure, and more energy to fight the cancer.

Physical exercise such as resistance training has another benefit: it increases muscle mass. Increasing muscle mass allows you to burn more energy, even at rest. Fat just sits there on your body. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate will be, even when you aren't working out.

Increasing your fitness level through exercise will also improve your quality of sleep. When you work your body, it requires rest to repair itself. Although you may feel fatigued from your cancer treatments that is not the same as fatigue from work. You may sleep fitfully, and you may not reach the deeper levels of REM sleep necessary for deep, repairing sleep.

A recent survey in the Mental Health and Physical Activity journal found that men and women who got 150 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly saw a 65 percent improvement in their quality of sleep. Similar results were discovered for leg cramps during sleep and difficulty concentrating while fatigued.  

Yet another positive benefit you will experience from starting an exercise routine is a mood boost. That's because exercise increases levels of chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals are the natural "feel good" drugs of the body. Vigorous exercise releases them into your body, dampening feelings of pain and soreness and leaving you with a calm feeling.

If you decide to take up exercise, be sure to consult with your doctor to find a type of exercise you can perform at an intensity that is appropriate for your current condition.

Written by Guest Author, David Haas

exerciseExercising and Pain

We all know how important regular exercise is to staying healthy and fit. We especially need to stay fit when we’re fighting cancer. Regular exercise will keep our immune system functioning and will give us the edge we need in our fight against cancer. If your cancer has spread to your bones, regular exercise may be challenging, if not impossible due to pain. You may think that exercising cannot be part of your routine anymore. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You may actually hinder your healing by not exercising on a regular basis.

Before starting any type of exercise program, it is important to consult with your doctor to make sure that these suggested exercises are right for you and that no damage will result by performing these simple exercise routines. Every diagnosis, situation and pain level is different and may affect everyone differently. So ask your doctor first to keep yourself safe.

For me, my breast cancer has spread to my spine causing me severe pain. It hinders my ability to run and even to walk any distance. Daily chores are just that – a chore and sometimes impossible to do. There are days where I can’t even get up off the couch, but this doesn’t stop me from getting my 15 minutes of exercise daily.

First, buy yourself a set of 5 lb. weights (or heavier if you can handle it). Sit on the couch and do simple weight lifting with your arms.

Exercise 1:  Put a 5 lb weight in each hand and extend over your head in a series of 5, then rest. Continue with another set of 5, then rest. Continue doing this for as long as you can. Don’t overdo it your first time. Remember, a little bit of exercise is better than no exercise at all.

Exercise 2: Put a 5 lb weight in each hand and extend outward in front of you. This may be a little more difficult so pace yourself. Do a group of 5 followed by a short resting period. Do as many groups of 5 as you can handle remembering not to overdo your first time. You can gradually increase the number of repetitions as you become stronger.

Exercise 3: Put a 5 lb weight in each hand and bend your arms upward keeping your elbows at your side. As in the above exercises, do as many groups of 5 as you can and remember to rest in between each set.

Exercise 4: Leg lifts: Lie on your back or in your favorite recliner and lift your legs upward as high as you can in repetitions of 5 on one leg, then 5 on the other leg. Rest, then repeat as many times as you comfortably can. Increase the number of repetitions as you get stronger.

Exercise 5: Leg Bends: Lie on your back or in your favorite recliner with legs outstretched. Bend your legs towards you at the knees in repetitions of 5 resting in between each repetition. To make it a little easier at first, do one leg at a time. Make sure that your spine is strong enough to handle this type of exercise as this exercise will put pressure on your lower back. Always check with your doctor first before beginning any kind of an exercise routine with bone metastasis.

A good cardio exercise that also strengthens the legs is bike riding. Riding a bike does not put as much pressure on the spine as running or even walking and will definitely get the heart pumping. Investing in a good stationery bike is an ideal way to accomplish this.

Look for a low impact Yoga class. Yoga is an exceptional way to stay fit and flexible. Remember to inform the instructor of your condition and to do the routine at your own pace and level. Never overdo. You will end up doing more damage to yourself than good. Pace yourself and be patient. Work up to a more advanced workout.

Here is a link to a Yoga DVD that is cancer patient oriented. This may be more suited to someone who does not want to attend a Yoga class outside the home.

 In time you’ll see that you are feeling better and that you have more energy. The more you sit around and do nothing, the more fatigue and depression set in.  Force yourself to do at least one of these exercises daily. Even on the days where you don’t feel like getting out of bed, do your leg lifts.  Without realizing it, you’ll get a burst of energy that will get you out of bed ready to take on the day.