Exercise and Cancer in a New Season

With the changing of the seasons, we also begin to adapt our personal habits. Depending on where you live, the climate may have a significant impact on how you are able to exercise (and where) or in the types of activities you can do. One thing is clear, regardless of the season, exercise and physical activity is generally good for you and, depending on your cancer, can make a difference both in prevention and in heal rates.

As always, talk to the doctor before you adjust your activity.

There are tests (blood work in particular) that will indicate your ability to exercise safely. Under most circumstances, however, the common belief now is that some physical activity is good if you can handle it.

Whereas patients were once encouraged to rest in order to recover, there is an increasing body of evidence which suggests that even moderate physical activity is beneficial for people who are in treatment. So, before the winter weather hits, take time to enjoy the crisp outdoor air and move around a bit!

You do not have to do a lot of heavy exercise for to recognize the benefits of your efforts. Take a walk or ride your bike around the block. Maybe try the stairs in stead of the elevator at work. Park further from the stores when you are out shopping. Truly, the evidence shows that as little of 3-5 hours per week of movement[i] can make a difference in both physical and mental health.

See if you can find someone to go out with you. The camaraderie will make the time pass and it is a nice way to catch up instead of sitting indoors. If you enjoy fall sports on TV, make a point to get up and move around during half time of the big game.

Ways regular exercise may help you during cancer treatment:

  • Keep or improve your physical abilities (how well you can use your body to do things)
  • Improve balance, lower risk of falls and broken bones
  • Keep muscles from wasting due to inactivity
  • Lower the risk of heart disease
  • Lessen the risk of osteoporosis (weak bones that are more likely to break)
  • Improve blood flow to your legs and lower the risk of blood clots
  • Make you less dependent on others for help with normal activities of daily living
  • Improve your self-esteem
  • Lower the risk of being anxious and depressed
  • Lessen nausea
  • Improve your ability to keep social contacts
  • Lessen symptoms of tiredness (fatigue)
  • Help you control your weight
  • Improve your quality of life [ii]

So, again, while you have the benefit of milder temperatures and the fresh fall air, take the time to get outdoors and appreciate the changing leaves and fall colors. Remember that attitude is also critically important when it comes to recovery rates, and getting in motion outdoors will help you feel better mentally and physically. You do not have to set huge goals. Just commit to moving around a bit and enjoy the scenery while you are at it. Count blessings. Think positive thoughts. Be optimistic. Be as well as you can be, for yourself and for those who care about you.

[i] http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorshipduringandaftertreatment/stayingactive/physical-activity-and-the-cancer-patient

[ii] http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorshipduringandaftertreatment/stayingactive/physical-activity-and-the-cancer-patient