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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Health & Fitness Helps Cancer Patients Improve Their Health

Today I would like to share with you a guest post by blogger David Haas. David is a cancer patient advocate who spends time writing and researching for the betterment of others.  You all know how I stress exercise during and post treatment.  David shares with us some helpful information on the subject.  Just remember, during treatment, you need to listen to your body and your mind.  Some days you may feel like exercising and some not; this is okay; really….my wish is for you to feel good about it and yourself.  Be well. 

Health & Fitness Helps Cancer Patients Improve Their Health, by David Haas

For a person who just received a cancer diagnosis or is experiencing physical pain from cancer treatments, physical activity may seem like the least beneficial thing they can do for themselves. Cancer patients may feel tired after their treatment, and they may not feel up to the challenge. However, becoming or remaining physically active is actually the best thing that a person who is battling cancer can do, and it has benefits that extend far beyond weight loss or increased agility. There is a proven connection between the body and the mind. Consequently, keeping both of them healthy is the best way to achieve a balanced life beyond a cancer diagnosis.

According to an article by the National Cancer Institute, fatigue and physical functioning are factors that directly influence the quality of life for cancer patients.  This has the same effect whether someone is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer or going through painful and overwhelming mesothelioma treatment. If a cancer patient is experiencing extreme tiredness from treatments or from mental stress, they may not want to engage in exercise. However, fatigue may soon set in as a result of inactivity. Then, reduced physical functioning is almost sure to follow. Because this will lessen the quality of life for the cancer patient, keeping a schedule of regular physical activity is of the utmost importance.

Along with keeping the body and the mind healthy, engaging in fitness activities while undergoing treatment can also help some patients keep their weight down and their muscles well toned. Weight gain can occur due to some of the medicine that a cancer patient is taking, or as a result of neglecting to carefully monitor their diets. Working with a doctor or fitness expert to create a fitness routine that can effectively address these issues will help to make sure that the patient’s body remains in the best possible condition throughout the process of diagnosis and treatment.

The National Cancer Institute article mentioned above states that there are often more gains in health that happen with cancer patients who exercise than with those who do nothing at all. This should help cancer patients understand the importance of making sure that fitness is a priority. It is understandable that someone who has just finished a chemotherapy treatment or a round of medicine may not always feel up to walking on the treadmill or biking through the park. In these cases, it is imperative that the patient remembers that balance is the key to achieving a healthy body and healthy mind. When balance is the ultimate goal, fitness can become an enjoyable part of any cancer patient’s life.

Elyn Jacobs
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Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Inc. and a breast cancer survivor.  She empowers women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and she educates about how to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life.

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