Fitness and Cancer–A Guest Post From David Haas

Did you know that April is National Cancer Control Month? This week, The Studio (MDR) is very honored to have guest blogger David Haas write on “Fitness and Cancer.” David is a cancer support group and awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Fitness and Cancer

When people learn that they have cancer, the diagnoses can have a very serious impact on many aspects of their lives. Even after they have survived the disease, individuals still have to deal with the physical, mental and often emotional aftermath of their treatments, disease and lifestyle change.

One of these challenging results is that their overall fitness level is most likely not the same as it was before. However, as the National Cancer Institute points out, certain studies have shown that reasonable programs of exercise and strength building can help address not only this issue but several other side effects as well.

General Health  
Apart from the side effects of the disease itself, cancer patients have often had to endure rounds of treatments that weaken them physically, or reduce the effectiveness of their immune systems. As WebMd.com points out, “exercise can help cancer patients maximize health for the long term.”

With that said, a program of moderated diet and exercise can help those who have had cancer rebuild their general health. As for the type of exercise, any kind of activity is better than being sedentary. Whether that means taking a walk around the block, parking the car further away from the grocery store or even just participating in various stretches, each of these options will get the heart rate up and body moving.

Quality of Life
Exercise has also been said to help those who have had cancer improve their quality of life. Treatments and lengthy periods of inactivity can often weaken the patient to the point where everyday activities such as shopping or walking the dog can become too much. However, strength building and stretching exercises can help cancer patients and survivors get back to feeling like their normal selves again.

Body Image
Whether it is for breast cancer or mesothelioma, many patients undergo treatments that can severely alter their body. Aside from hair and appetite loss, one of the most common results of chemotherapy treatments is the loss of weight and the corresponding reduction in muscle mass. That’s why it is so important for those diagnosed to continue lifting weights and increasing muscle mass by staying active so that the cancer can not take over the body to the degree that the patient won’t even recognize themselves when they look in the mirror.

Sense of Control
One of the worst aspects of cancer is that many people who get it feel a loss of control over their own life. People who–up until that diagnoses–have lived life on their own terms and made their own decisions, must now place their fate in the hands of others. However, regardless of how many doctors or any other medical professionals there are with the patient every step of the way, this feeling of loss of control still exists. Fortunately, studies have shown that exercise and rebuilding the strength of their bodies can boost patients and survivors morale by giving them back feelings of empowerment.

All in all, making an effort to regain physical strength by using a carefully laid out exercise plan can be one of the best things any cancer patient can decide to do. However, it is important to keep in mind that any such decision should be made with the advice and approval of a qualified physician.

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