Exercise is one of the most beneficial activities that cancer patients and survivors can do for their physical and mental well-being. While cancer and its treatments can cause a wide range of physical and emotional challenges, incorporating exercise into daily life can help reduce the severity of these challenges and improve overall health. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of exercising for cancer patients and survivors, including how it can help improve physical function, mental health, and overall quality of life.
Improve Physical Function
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery can weaken the body and cause a range of physical challenges, including fatigue, muscle weakness, and joint pain. But regular exercise can help rebuild physical function and strength. Exercise can help improve cardiovascular function, muscle strength, and flexibility, making it easier to perform daily activities.
Reduce cancer-related fatigue
Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most common and distressing side effects of cancer treatment. This type of fatigue can last for months after treatment ends and can significantly impact a patient's ability to function. Studies have shown that exercise can help reduce cancer-related fatigue, making it easier to manage daily activities and maintain the overall quality of life.
Manage cancer-related symptoms
Exercise has also been shown to help manage other cancer-related symptoms like pain, nausea, and insomnia. Regular exercise can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is associated with many cancer-related symptoms. Additionally, exercise can help improve appetite, which can be particularly helpful for patients who have lost weight during cancer treatment.
Boost mental health
Cancer and its treatments can take a significant toll on a patient's mental health, causing anxiety, depression, and stress. Exercise has been shown to help alleviate these symptoms by boosting the production of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Additionally, exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety, making it easier to cope with the challenges of cancer and its treatments.
Improve the quality of life
Overall, exercise can significantly improve the quality of life for cancer patients and survivors. By improving physical function, managing cancer-related symptoms, and boosting mental health, exercise can help patients maintain a sense of independence and control over their lives. Additionally, exercise can help patients feel more connected to others, which can be particularly important during and after cancer treatment.
Starting an exercise program
After completing cancer treatment, many patients may be hesitant to start an exercise program. It's important to work with a healthcare provider to develop a safe and effective exercise program that takes into account any physical limitations or side effects from treatment. Patients may need to start with light exercise and gradually increase intensity and duration over time.
In conclusion, exercise can be a powerful tool for cancer patients and survivors, improving physical function, managing symptoms, and boosting mental health. By working with healthcare providers to develop a safe and effective exercise program, patients can improve their overall quality of life and feel more in control of their health and well-being.