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PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES FOR CANCER PATIENTS

Cancer treatment which includes chemotherapy can take a huge toll on your body physically, draining you of the energy that you need to go through each day. Thus, it is vital that you engage in physical activities to keep your body strong during the cancer recovery process.

14 Oct 2019

Engaging in daily physical activities will provide you with a mental boost, stimulate muscle growth and strengthen your body’s immunity as well. Exercise, which comes in many forms that include yoga, strength training and Pilates releases endorphins, or ‘happy hormones’, which provide you with a mood boost and keeps you feeling positive. These are powerful weapons to help you in your battle against cancer. In stark contrast, having a sedentary lifestyle void of any physical activity will result in muscular weakness and bodily function problems.

Benefits of regular exercise for cancer patients -
1. Improves physical ability and mental strength.
2. Reduces the side effects of cancer treatment.
3. Makes you independent in conducting active daily routines.
4. Helps improve balance and lowers the risk of falling by building muscle strength.
5. Improves blood circulation and ensures proper blood flow to all parts of the body.
6. Lowers the risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes.
7. Reduces fatigue and lethargy.
8. Helps control your weight.
9. Improves quality of life.
10. Improves mental well-being and provides a confidence boost, while lowering the risk of going into depression.

Here are some tips on how to include exercise in your daily schedule:

1. Reap The Benefits of Different Training Programs
An effective fitness regime during chemotherapy and other treatments should involve a variety of exercises to reap the full physical and mental benefits for your whole body. Aerobic exercises such as walking and running provide cardiovascular efficiency and strengthen your immune system, while resistance training using resistant bands and weights improve strength and muscular power. If you’re not particularly into specific forms of training, fret not. Daily activities such as doing the laundry, bathing, dressing and cooking also provides aerobic benefits, while resistance movements that include standing up from a chair, carrying your own bag and climbing flights of stairs help develop muscular strength. Resistance exercises also help improve bone density and reduce fatigue. Another form of exercise that can be incorporated into your fitness plan is core training exercise. Core muscles are the backbone of mobility, and are used in every body movement, even lying in bed. Hence, it is necessary that you have a strong core as this will allow you to move freely and prevent injury from occurring. If these training programs do not appeal to you, you could also try out alternative training methods such as Gentle Flow Yoga and Body Balance.

2. Stay Physically Strong Through Daily Routine
Maintaining fitness during cancer treatment is important, particularly for activities that you need to do during as part of your daily routine. Think about the movements you will need to perform to fulfil your routine doing laundry. For example, have two piles of clothes flanking either side of an empty laundry basket, and alternate between picking up articles of clothing from either pile before throwing them into the basket. Repeat this process on a daily basis to activate your muscles and gradually increase muscle resistance by incorporating activities that involve more strenuous movements.

3. Understand Your Body’s Needs and Requirements
The type of exercises a cancer patient should perform varies across individuals. For adults, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activities per week is recommended. Thus, you would need to be very careful with the amount of physical activity done to avoid burnout.


4. Hydration and Nutrition is as Equally Important as Exercising
Hydration and nutrition before, during and after exercise is fundamental in allowing your body to get stronger every day. If you do not provide your body with adequate hydration and proper nutrition, it will be difficult for your muscles to heal and grow properly. Aim to drink at least 2 litres of water per day and stick to a cancer-recovery meal plan comprising of whole grains, lean meat, high-protein foods such as beans, legumes, fish and low-fat foods.

5. Train with a Partner Who Builds You Up
To ensure consistency in your exercise regime, it is recommended that you train with a partner. This will help empower you to push yourself, particularly on days when you don’t feel up to the task. Also, the sharing of fitness goals and ideas with each other will keep you both excited and motivated to hit milestones during your fitness journey.

Strength training for cancer is recommended by physicians the world over. Apart from allowing your body to cope with the draining effects of chemotherapy and other treatments, it will also help you cope with the common side effects of chemotherapy that include fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, anemia, depression and anxiety. But before you commit to a fitness plan, it would be best to first consult your physician to ascertain the required results for you and your body