Monday, May 13, 2013

Fit for the Fight: Exercise Options for Cancer Patients

Hey everyone!
I'm excited to say that this week we have a guest post from Melanie Bowen about how exercise can help cancer patients. If you want to guest post click the contact me link at the top and send me your idea for a guest post.
Here is more about Melanie:
Melanie is currently a Master's student with a passion that stems from her grandmother's cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness.  To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.

Keep reading for her article

Most people understand the importance of exercise for overall health and fitness. When serious health concerns such as a cancer diagnosis arise, often exercise may be the last thing on your mind. Many have a lack of understanding about the roles and benefits of exercise & physical fitness during treatment and recovery. Cancer patients especially need to continue getting plenty of physical exercise, but the rigors of treatment may require accommodations to your regular fitness routine. Consider these three fitness levels and how they can work for you through your battle with cancer.

Light Exercise Option
During intense treatment, cancer patients may need to scale back their physical activity to meet their abilities. This does not mean convalescing without putting in effort. Instead, light exercise will help cancer patients get some physical activity without overtaxing their bodies. During light exercise, participants will notice no changes in their rate of breathing and should not break a sweat.

Gentle stretching helps improve flexibility and range of motion while improving your overall mood and decreasing fatigue. Those in later stages of cancer can especially benefit from gentle stretching. For example, arm extensions can alleviate the pain of lymphedema in those recovering from breast cancer surgery. Those with difficulty breathing, such as patients undergoing mesothelioma treatment will find stretching a great way to improve mobility without overexerting themselves. 

Moderate Exercise Option
As cancer patients begin to regain strength following aggressive treatments, moderate exercise becomes a possibility. At this fitness level, participants will begin break a light sweat after about 10 minutes of physical activity and notice an increase in breathing, but will not feel out of breath.

Gentle to moderate yoga provides many benefits for cancer patients. In addition to increased flexibility and range of motion, participants will experience elevated mood, better sleep and increased energy. The stress-reducing factors of yoga particularly benefit cancer patients. Yoga and other types of moderate exercise help improve energy levels, triggers natural endorphins that combat pain and inhibit stress related hormones while providing a means of alleviating stress from treatment or recovery.  

Advanced Exercise 
Toward the later stages of the recovery process, cancer patients will find themselves capable of advanced exercise. This level of fitness, great for recovering patients and survivors, will be particularly vigorous. Participants will begin breathing rapidly and break a sweat after about 10 minutes of activity.

Many cancer survivors can benefit from weight training. Especially those who have lost considerable muscle mass during treatment, as well as those who have experienced a significant increase in fat tissue during cancer treatment will reap benefits from a good weight-training program. Survivors of prostate cancer, stomach cancers and cancers of the head and neck often are in particular need of rebuilding muscle mass with the help of strength and resistance training. Gym members will find it easiest to begin such a regimen by using weight machines at their facility. 

Regardless of where you are in your fight against cancer, fitness is a key component of your overall recovery plan. While exercise is not a cure for cancer, it offers many health benefits, and your quality of life will also improve significantly if you make a habit of getting regular exercise. Keep open communication with your doctor concerning what fitness level is right for you. If you need further assistance, ask your oncology team to help you connect with an organization in your area that specializes in helping cancer patients with fitness programs.


  1. I might say that this article is very informative,interesting and useful at the same time, for those people who has been in cancer disease. By the way, thank you for sharing this post.

    alternative treatments to cancer

  2. Very informative. Physical exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent health problems especially heart problems. And physical exercise helps to increase your testosterone levels as well. There are lots of advantages in terms of physical exercise plus proper healthy diet.

    fenugreek testosterone

  3. This is a great story of encouragement for everyone. God sustains us through life's good times and bad times. He offers a higher way of living -- not a life without pain, but the strength to endure. Great job!

    Irvine Cancer Recovery


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