Sunday, August 26, 2012

Improving Survival Rates and Quality of Life Through Physical Activity

David Haas, the Family Hospitality Coordinator at Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance found this blog while on the internet. He wrote the article below and asked if I would publish in on this blog. After reading it, I more than willingly agreed to publish.

 Exercise is important for the mental and physical health for all people...especially for those who struggle with a diagnosis of cancer. I know how hard it is to commit sometimes to exercise. It's easy to excuse out of our schedule. I do it all the time. But now being diagnosed with early osteopenia...I know that every day I have to make time to do SOMETHING.  And I KNOW that after I do that something, I have a sense of well being and pride in my accomplishment, whether walking a mile, swimming for 20 minutes, or doing a session of pilates or yoga.  Please take a few moments to read this and pass it on.  The links are listed above and here is David's link on Facebook:  You can google his name for more information! Thank you David for your important work!

Improving Survival Rates and Quality of Life Through Physical Activity

Regardless of where you are in your cancer journey, staying physically active is important.
According to the National Cancer Institute, physical fitness not only contributes to overall health improvement, but can also improve stamina, help fight fatigue, increase metabolism and contribute to significant improvements in depression and anxiety.

Health Benefits of Exercise

It is not news that exercising improves overall health.  Almost any type of physical activity increases metabolism, which helps burn calories and reduces weight.  For many people, the benefits of weight loss alone are an excellent reason to become physically active.  Exercising can also lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular strength and increase muscle strength.

Studies have repeatedly found that there is a link between physical activity and cancer risk.  Individuals who engage in regular exercise are at reduced risk for developing colon, breast, uterine and lung cancer.  For people who do not engage in much physical activity before getting cancer, survival rates significantly improve if they begin an exercise program promptly.

The benefits of physical activity continue even after cancer has gone into remission.  With continued exercise, many patients reduce their chances of the cancer reappearing later in life.

Emotional Benefits of Exercise


Beyond the physical benefits of exercising and being active, there are substantial emotional benefits.  Many cancer patients become depressed and feel anxious during treatment for mesothelioma, breast cancer or other types of cancer.  Aside from antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications, a doctor or therapist may recommend becoming physically active as a way to address the mental health issues that come with having cancer.

Simply taking a short walk can stimulate neurochemicals that improve your mood.  With regular and frequent activity, many patients find they can accomplish more and reach milestones, such as walking or bike riding longer distances or being up and moving for longer periods of time.  With each accomplishment, patients feel better both physically and emotionally.

Many patients report their self-confidence improves with physical exercise.  They may feel better about their appearance as they lose weight or gain muscle tone.  As they are able to accomplish more, their sense of confidence in their abilities returns.  They may begin to want to visit places they enjoy, see friends and family more often or return to activities and hobbies they have enjoyed in the past.

Becoming physically active does not mean immediately running a marathon.  There are a wide variety of exercises and activities that can help cancer patients of mesothelioma and other types see quality of life improvements.  Simple yoga or stretching exercises can improve balance, flexibility and muscle strength.  Mild or moderate walking or bicycle riding can improve cardiovascular health, increase metabolism and improve stamina.  Swimming can provide a full-body workout and improve cardiovascular performance, stamina and help fight fatigue.  If a patient has been sedentary and inactive, it is a good idea to talk to the doctor first and get recommendations on the best types of physical activity.  The doctor may also recommend working with a physical therapist to avoid injuries.

Being physically active may seem difficult initially and be the last thing a person with cancer wants to do while they are ill.  However, the benefits of exercise are very real and can help patients feel better emotionally and physically, both in the long and short term journey of their illness.