This week our report will be about exercise and the dreaded “C” word! Yes, I mean Cancer. After reading several articles to determine if exercise is good for patients undergoing treatment, recovering from treatment and patients in remission, the phrase that sums it up best is: “If exercise were a cancer drug, it would be a blockbuster!”
The articles seemed to be unanimous in touting the benefits of exercise for cancer patients. One physician indicated “patients would be ‘shocked’ if they knew how much physical activity could help their recovery and long term health.” He further indicated, and urged, that services to promote and offer exercise should not only be available, but they should be “prescribed” to cancer patients.
Yet despite this strong evidence many health professionals were not aware of the benefits and in fact, many of them are not telling their patients about it. Close to 60% of GPs, nurses, cancer doctors and cancer nurses do not discuss the benefits of physical activity with their patients. We need a “cultural change,” so that doctors and other health professionals stop viewing physical activity as an “add-on” and treat it instead as an integral part of cancer after-care.
It was recommended that adults should do 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week. They should aim to be active daily, and their 150 minutes a week should be in bouts of no less than 10 minutes of moderate to intense activity, ideally 30 minutes, on at least five days of the week. Improving muscle strength was strongly recommended, and to try to work your muscles at least two days a week. Toning muscles will improve balance and coordination, which tend to be a problem that goes along with chemo treatments.
Every one of us has been touched by someone who has had cancer; a friend, a co-worker, a family member. We should encourage them to “get moving,” as soon as possible. The benefits of exercising for cancer patients are the same as for all the rest of us; stress reduction, aids in improving depression, helps with balance and coordination, and improves muscle tone. Exercise for cancer patients can make you fitter, stronger, and thinner – like anyone else who exercises.
Every person’s situation is different. Before starting a moderate to vigorous exercise program, see your doctor and get his stamp of approval. The Flexibility exercises we offer at the Activity Center virtually everyone can do; our aerobic exercises (water and land) burns calories and builds cardiovascular fitness and helps you feel less fatigued; further, the exercise room, along with Carole Wardell, will help with resistance training which builds muscle.
Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. Your body has been through a lot and it is necessary to challenge it gradually.
We will close with a success story. After a bout with breast cancer, this young lady was feeling pretty down and exhausted after her treatments. She was prescribed an exercise program that included 12 weeks free use of a gym and regular meetings with a trained instructor. The instructor made the recommendation that she join a workout group of women who had been through breast cancer surgery. Getting to know the group of women, and working out with them, left her with new friends, and she loved the activities they did together so much that she is still, years later, enjoying every minute of their time together. She added; “I am a completely different person and feel so much better, more confident and less tired.”
So get moving, check out the American Institute of Cancer Research for types of workouts that would be good for your specific situation, get some of their wonderful recipes and talk to your doctor. We want to see you here for many years to come.