Exercising For Cancer Recovery
We all know that exercise is good for the body and mind as self-care practice for better health and wellbeing. It helps prevent lifestyle-related diseases and enhances performance and functioning. It also releases endorphins, thus, playing a vital role in reducing stress and boosting mental health.
However, many may not be aware that exercise plays an important role in preventing Cancer, during Cancer treatment, and in Cancer and treatment recovery, thereby, improving quality of life.
The benefits of exercise in each phase deserves serious consideration. Findings of several studies reveal the following:
I. BENEFITS OF EXERCISE IN PREVENTING CANCER
- As for many health conditions, there is considerable evidence suggesting that increased physical activity plays an important role in reducing rates of and help prevent certain cancers, notably cancers of the colon, breast, lungs, prostate, and uterus, among others.
- Greater and more regular the exercise/activity, the lower the risk of premature death from cancer and heart disease. Even regular brisk walking trumps inactivity.
- Exercise often simultaneously also helps initiate and promote positive dietary and other lifestyle changes (including cutting down smoking). These constitute important modifiable behaviours and determinants of cancer, thereby helping lower cancer incidence.
*Tobacco, alcohol, obesity, dietary considerations and other cancer-causing lifestyle choices will need addressing, no doubt
II. BENEFITS OF EXERCISE DURING TREATMENT
Exercising during cancer treatment is not a thought for most. In fact, many may find it counter-intuitive. However, increasing studies show that people who start and/or maintain exercise programs during their treatment remain stronger mentally and physically.
- There are functional improvements in those who keep up with exercise during treatments, including better endurance/stamina, strength, body weight, and composition, cardiovascular fitness, better handling of cancer-related fatigue (physical and mental), and generally better physical and mental functioning.
- Better management of symptoms like poor appetite and digestion, gastrointestinal upsets, muscular pains, joint pains (arthralgia), tingling, or ‘pins-and-needle’ sensation (paresthesia), insomnia, lowered immunity, etc. All of these interfere with the daily living of cancer patients and survivors and aggravate stress in coping and regular functioning.
- There are substantial psychological and physiological gains and improvement – an enhanced sense of positivity, better self-esteem and confidence, lower mood disturbances, anxiety and depressive feelings, better sleep quality, better treatment and pain tolerance, and a greater sense of independence. All of these contribute hugely to quality-of-life and a sense of reassurance overall. This fact can never be overemphasized given the ability of the mind to influence the body and determine treatment outcomes and coping.
III. BENEFITS OF EXERCISE DURING CANCER RECOVERY
- Exercise helps one return to pre-cancer/treatment fitness and strength levels, especially after any cancer surgery. It could perhaps, even make it better especially for those who have had no prior history of exercise or fitness.
- It greatly helps in reducing and correcting functional and postural deficits created by surgery. Exercise helps in regaining flexibility, strength and cardiovascular and muscular conditioning. A well-planned cancer rehab and exercise program, designed and aided by a Cancer Exercise Specialist makes it a safe, effective, and powerful tool in recovering better and faster.
- It can help reduce cancer progression, chances of future recurrence or emergence of new/secondary cancers, and also help reduce health complications and risk to life brought on by other diseases.
Cancer, no doubt, is a challenging and draining condition- physically, mentally, and financially. It impacts not just the patient/survivor but also family and caregivers. Each case will need individual attention, dynamic assessment, and collective management by the medical team, caregivers, and Cancer Exercise Specialists to design, implement, and monitor best protocols. There is a strong case to use exercise (mindfully and carefully) at each stage to deliver a better quality of life outcomes and a greater sense of control and empowerment with Cancer.
About Vani Pahwa
Vani B. Pahwa is Health & Wellness Evangelist, and Founder, Body In Motion, who specializes in Functional-Fitness, and Cancer Exercise & Rehabilitation. With almost 2 decades of experience, and certifications from leading internationally-accredited and globally-recognized fitness institutions, Vani is the leading Wellness Expert for Multinational Corporations and is a recognized Speaker and Coach. An Indian Classical Dancer, Vani encompasses her learnings from dance to everyday movement making “exercise and training for life, not just events.” To know more about Vani and her premium wellness services, visit https://www.bodyinmotion.in