Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fitness and Cancer: Why It's Important to Stay Healthy

I was recently contacted by cancer survivor David Haas of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog about guest posting on my blog.  We have similar philosophies about the importance of support networks and physical fitness to fighting cancer.  I started this blog to keep my support network at arm's reach throughout my cancer treatment.  My favorite forms of exercise are walking, biking, and yoga, and even on my sickest days I found someone to lean on to walk me down the block and back.  Love and movement are powerful medicines.  Call on your friends or family to help you get a dose of each.   

Everyone agrees that exercise and a proper diet are important for maintaining overall health. Staying fit reduces a person's risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and improves muscular strength and endurance. This is even more important for people dealing with cancer. Whether they have just been diagnosed or are in remission, staying fit means responding to treatment better, increased energy levels, and a higher quality of life. Unfortunately, exercise is likely not to top the priority list of a cancer patient. The effects of cancer, and cancer therapy, may leave a person with little energy or desire to exercise.

For active people, daily exercise and a healthy diet may already be habit. They may need to modify their exercise routines to fit their new needs, but can maintain normal activity. People who are less active may find it difficult to focus on fitness, especially if they have recently been diagnosed with cancer, but should consult their doctor and develop an exercise regimen and healthy diet.

Any cancer patient knows that treatment is heavily taxing on the body making it difficult to find the energy to exercise. However, poor fitness and obesity are connected to complications during treatment, increased risk of recurrence, and higher mortality during and after treatment. Fit patients respond better to treatment and cope better with the side effects of cancer therapy. There is also a growing body of evidence that indicates exercise and a healthy diet can actually prevent cancer. For cancer survivors, exercise and a healthy diet can help keep cancer in remission. For sufferers of lung cancer or mesothelioma, exercise can mean being able to maintain daily functionality. Light aerobic exercise maintains and increases lung capacity leading to increased oxygen levels.

While the main focus of cancer treatment is on survivability, doctors are paying more attention to improving quality of life. Exercise and a healthy diet contribute significantly to increased energy levels and positive outlook, helping cancer patients to cope with the rigors of treatment. Post-treatment, cancer survivors should continue to focus on staying fit. Daily exercise and a balanced diet will help the body recover and prevent cancer from recurring.

Thank you so much, David.  You have inspired me to make a new page where I have collected posts related to my exercise and cancer experiences.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks David and H-Bomb. I was just thinking about how the advice H received during her Hasta La Vista visit is just good advice!