Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Benefits of Fitness During & After Cancer


Whether it is a family member, friend, neighbour or even a colleague, we have all unfortunately been affected by cancer in some way. I am a true believer in the power of exercise and the following post, written by Melanie Bowen, is a perfect example of how physical treatments can help one deal with and possibly overcome the burden of such a horrible diagnosis.
Regaining Fitness During Cancer Recovery

Cancer recovery is a long road that can be exhausting for many patients.  Even when treatment is behind you, you may feel as if you will never feel normal again.  Regaining your overall fitness after cancer treatment is not an easy task, but it can be done with some determination and knowledge.  Exercising can even boost your mood and help you feel better while recovering.  It is important to discuss exercise with your doctor and take it slow until you know your level of fitness ability.

Exercising During Aggressive Cancer Treatment

While it is important to engage in some form of physical activity while undergoing cancer treatment, the intensity of aggressive forms of treatment makes it necessary to stick with light exercises.  Light exercises generally do not cause a change in breathing pattern and do not result in sweat.

Breathing exercises are a great way to increase circulation, reduce fatigue and improve lung function during cancer treatment.  Breathing exercises are especially effective for those with pleural mesothelioma or any other lung-related cancer.  Breathing exercises have even been linked to a reduced risk of depression in recovering cancer patients.

Fitness During Cancer Recovery

Patients who are done with the treatment process may be able to handle moderately intense exercises that require a bit more effort.  People who are ready to regain their strength after going through the intense cancer treatment process can engage in moderate exercises in order to get this energy back.  Moderate exercises do cause deeper breathing, but a person who is engaging in moderate exercises does not feel out of breath.  A light sweat may form after about ten minutes of physical activity

According to, swimming as little as 20 minutes a day three times per week can provide health benefits to cancer survivors.  Water aerobic exercises provide a cushion for the body that makes these exercises easier to complete than activities done on land.  In addition, this is considered as a low-impact exercise because exercising in water makes you feel about 90 percent lighter. As a result, water aerobics are a great exercise for cancer patients who may have joint complications. Also, water aerobics offer resistance that enables a patient to build up strength during recovery.

Taking Fitness One Step Further

Patients who have successfully established a moderate fitness routine can talk to their doctors about increasing the intensity and participating in advanced exercises.  Advanced exercises are used to build upon strength and stamina established while engaging in moderate exercises.  People who engage in advanced exercises breathe deeply and sweat after only a few minutes.

Running is a popular exercise that cancer survivors can engage in when they have built up stamina and strength.  Patients are encouraged to wait until the later stages of recovery before trying running as an exercise.  Running can fight fatigue and build endurance.  One of the biggest benefits of running is that it requires no special equipment, and runners are able to gauge their own abilities and create a workout based on these abilities.  Patients can easily vary the length and intensity of a running session.

Starting a fitness routine during cancer recovery seems like a daunting task, but gradually building up endurance and strength while recovering from cancer treatment provides valuable benefits.  Patients can regain energy and improve their overall health by engaging in physical activity that is catered to their fitness ability.  It is important to consult a physician before starting a fitness regimen during cancer treatment and recovery.


     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.  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.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you that health and fitness is really helps cancer patients to improve their health.infact,I would say that fitness can helps in any type of illness to improve health.

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