Cancer & Exercise
Cancer, while no one likes to talk about it, it is something that will inevitably touch each of our lives by affecting us or someone we know. Therefore, making sure that helpful information becomes common knowledge is so important. This month we wanted to help spread awareness about how exercise can help us prevent and/or manage cancer symptoms and treatment.
First, did you know that exercise can be a preventative measure against certain forms of cancer. Studies have shown a lesser risk of colon cancer, post-menopausal breast cancer and endometrial cancer for those who exercise regularly. There is also limited evidence but ongoing research regarding a relationship between reduced cancer risk for a large number of other forms of cancer and physical activity.
It is no secret that certain types of treatment for cancer, such as chemo, can take a significant toll on the body. It is not unusual for people to be bed-ridden for periods of time following a chemo treatment due to illness. We often see individuals suffer weight loss, in an unhealthy fashion, during cancer treatment and this is in part due to a significant loss of muscle mass. That is why it is so important to be exercising regularly before any diagnosis of cancer, leading up to cancer treatment, and even during the course of treatment when possible (and within limits recommended by a doctor). If we have limited muscle mass going into treatment, any loss may leave us severely weakened and unable to do even the smallest of tasks. Staying strong and healthy before treatment can help us to recover more quickly afterwards, as a good foundation will hopefully see us through.
Lastly, many individuals that develop cancer experience some amount of depression. It is well documented that exercise can be a wonderful tool to help combat mild to moderate depression. Additionally, continuing to exercise can help us focus on what our body can do instead of focusing on the negatives, giving us an overall better mindset.
In order to build a strong foundation to prevent, or if necessary, manage cancer symptoms and treatment, here are some exercise guidelines for you: Try to do cardiovascular exercises, like walking or swimming, on most days of the week for 30-60 minutes. Do strengthening exercises on 2-4 days of the week.
If you know someone with cancer, pass this on to them. Always follow the guidelines given by your doctor.