This is a guest post from David Haas. David writes and conducts research for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. You can find his writing at http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/david/
I’ve had family members diagnosed with cancer and seen first hand how exercise can help them and their caregivers.
It seems that nearly every family is affected by the terrifying diagnosis of cancer. The word suggests uncertainty and fear. Many people when first diagnosed with some type of cancer are afraid of early death or a long, painful process from which death is a welcome release. These kinds of thoughts weigh on the mind even when all is being done to perform a cure.
There are different treatments available for those suffering with cancer ranging from the alternative vitamin C therapies to the more conventional chemotherapy and radiation. One overlooked but valuable treatment option is physical fitness. Many are overwhelmed with a new diagnosis or have lost stamina after fighting the disease for a longer period so they do not consider exercise a priority. In fact, doctors have long advised cancer patients to get plenty of rest and cease physical activity. Modern medicine is suggesting a different treatment plan, however.
First of all, quality of life can be greatly improved by an exercise regimen. A fit body will maintain a healthy weight and keep organs, bones and muscles strong. Regular exercise can improve circulation, balance and appetite all of which may be compromised in a cancer patient. All of these benefits will give a person more motivation to fight the disease. Lynda Johnson, a nutrition specialist at University of Missouri suggests that the side effects of cancer can be lessened through exercise.
Cancer is a very complex disease and types of cancer vary greatly making it difficult if not impossible to suggest a proven protocol for cure. However, the emotional state of a person diagnosed with cancer can be greatly improved with fitness even if there are no physical benefits.
Exercising with a friend can give a great emotional boost. Spending time with loved ones takes a priority position in the lives of those with uncertain futures. A fitness buddy is also there for support if the cancer patient feels weak or sick.
Many newly diagnosed or recovering cancer patients can benefit from a personal trainer. Certain types of cancer call for specific fitness therapies. One example is mesothelioma, cancer of the lining of the lungs and other major organs caused by smoking or asbestos exposure. While a person going through treatment for mesothelioma will have periods where he is bedridden, exercise with a trainer that is educated in how to help a body fighting cancer is highly beneficial for those days when he is able to be up and around.
The link between a positive mood and the ability to fight disease is not well understood. However, those that take advantage of the euphoric state of mind that exercise produces seem to live longer and better lives even with cancer. This state of mind greatly affects the success of defeating the disease entirely.