The Importance of Being Physically Active During Cancer Treatment

Article by Rich Schultz
Read more by this author.


In the years past people who suffered from chronic illness like cancer were told by there physician to reduce their physical activity. In some cases reducing physical activity could be the right recommendation if they have limited mobility or excessive pain from their cancer treatments.

Physicians are now encouraging their cancer patients to be as physically active!

Too much rest can lead to loss of body functions and muscle weakness. The number one reason why people with chronic illness are not physically active is due to the over whelming amount of medicines/chemicals that are flowing throughout their bodies resulting in fatigue. But if you can manage and have the stamina to be physically active, studies have shown that your quality of life can improve. When most people hear the words exercise and physical activity they automatically assume lifting weights and that can be intimidating for some. But there are a variety of ways to increase your heart rate and work up a sweat through aerobic activities. Some activities include: taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to lunch, walking the dog and even mowing the lawn. Typically, the goal should be at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three days or more (but please meet with your physician before starting a training program).

The benefits one can achieve through being physically active during cancer treatment can tremendous. Through physical activity one can maintain or lose that undesired weight. Another commonly forgotten benefit of cardiovascular exercise is improving your balance and strengthening your bones. Getting outside and being active can be a relieve stress and boost self esteem. Through exercise you can lower blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease. One of the biggest advantages of exercise during cancer treatment is the reduction in nausea. With a reduction of nausea your odds of being physically active will increase dramatically. This is a compiling effect. If you start working out it can reduce nausea and you will feel better thus wanting to be physically active.

A growing number of studies have looked at the impact of physical activity on cancer recurrence and long-term survival. Exercise has helped to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, body composition, fatigue, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, happiness, and several quality of life factors in cancer survivors. According to The American Cancer Society, “At least 20 studies of people with breast, colorectal, prostate and ovarian cancer have suggested that physically active cancer survivors have a lower risk of cancer recurrence and improved survival compared with those who are inactive”.
Before engaging in any physical activity one should consult their doctor and review their blood count. Medications from certain cancer treatments can affect your lungs and heart. Medications like bleomycin or doxorubicin can put you at risk for injury. One should take precautions before exercising, if you have low white blood cell count or take a medication that lessens your ability to fight infection then one should stay away from any public gyms. Do not exercise if the amount of minerals in your blood such as sodium and potassium are not at a safe level.

With the stigma of not being physically active during cancer treatment being debunked, one should consider the plethora of advantages you can achieve through being physically active during cancer treatment. Starting an exercise program can be a big task for an individual. Starting slow and building up your routine is essential. The key to introducing physical activity and exercise and begin your journey to become a more active and healthy person is to find activities you enjoy and look forward to so that you can improve your fitness and have fun!

By: Rich Schultz, Leisure Fitness Outreach Wellness Associate – Article written from my experiences

Physical Activity and the Cancer Patient.

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