The Power Of Exercise During Chemo And Cancer Recovery
With loads of doctor’s appointments to go to, lab visits to sit through, and medications to take, the countless components of cancer treatment can take a significant toll on physical and mental health. And while in the past, doctors often advised people undergoing cancer treatment to lay low and rest, ongoing research has found that exercise can be a safe, effective, and beneficial element of cancer treatment. Read on to learn how exercise can improve health during and after cancer treatment and how and when to incorporate activity into your routine.
How Exercise Can Help During and After Treatment
While each person’s treatment journey will look different, studies suggest a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, and mobility work all have promising effects. Research shows that moderate exercise can improve cancer recovery in several notable ways. It can:
* Improve quality of life both during and after treatment * Reduce numbness, tingling, pain, cold sensitivity, and motor impairment in the hands and feet * Benefit muscular and aerobic fitness * Reduce stress and improve mood * Reduce insomnia
* Improve immune function
* Decrease cognitive decline * Increase bone density and improve overall bone health * Reduce fatigue * Help people feel empowered * Reduce the risk of cancer recurrence
How to Incorporate Exercise into Your Treatment Plan
Getting and staying physically active during and after chemotherapy can feel like an insurmountable challenge at times. That’s why it’s essential to monitor how you feel and take breaks when you need them. That said, remember that even a little movement can significantly improve your mental state and help you feel confident and empowered during treatment.
The Macmillan Cancer Support offers the following tips:
* Start slow and progress incrementally.
* Once you feel up to it, try to shoot for the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week.
* If you don’t have the energy to knock out 30 minutes in one sitting, break it up (try three 10-minute walks, for instance).
* Bring plenty of water with you and stay hydrated (this is especially important because chemotherapy can lead to nausea and vomiting).
* Listen to your body and do not exercise if you don’t feel well.
* Get back to your normal activities as soon as possible after treatment.
There are specific instances where a person should limit or avoid exercise. For instance, if you have cancer that affects your bones, high-impact exercise can put too much strain on your body (your doctor may recommend lower-impact movement like swimming instead). Moreover, women with breast cancer are often advised to limit or avoid upper body training until incisions heal after surgery. A pre-screening assessment can evaluate what is safe for you.
If you’re going through chemo, you should clear any type of exercise with your doctor before starting something new. Not sure where to start? Your doctor can refer you to a physical therapist who works with cancer patients to create individualised programmes specific to their needs.
Here are some of the very best places for those recovering from cancer to go to.