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Embracing physical activity during & after cancer treatment

Extensive research has shown that exercise is not only safe during and after cancer treatment but also offers numerous advantages, including enhancing your quality of life and providing a much-needed energy boost. Additionally, regular exercise can help manage treatment side effects and potentially reduce the risk of developing new cancers in the future. 

Benefits of exercise for people with cancer

Engaging in exercise during cancer treatment can have transformative effects on your well-being.
These benefits encompass: 

Enhancing treatment efficacy & reducing side effects

Regardless of the stage or type of cancer, exercise can improve your body’s response to treatment. Regular exercise has been proven to reduce treatment-related fatigue, maintain cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, and enhance physical strength. Furthermore, exercise has the potential to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, leading to an improved overall quality of life.

Enhancing overall health

Regular exercise offers a wide range of health benefits. It can improve balance, reducing the risk of falls, while also preserving mobility and independence. Engaging in physical activity helps prevent muscle deterioration, promotes strength, aids in weight maintenance or weight loss, improves sleep quality, and reduces the susceptibility to osteoporosis.

Mitigating risks of concurrent ailments & additional cancers

Exercise plays a crucial role in reducing the likelihood of developing co-existing conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. By engaging in consistent physical activity, you can effectively manage pre-existing conditions and lower the risk of developing other types of cancer.

Enhancing mental well-being

Studies have consistently demonstrated that exercise can significantly lower the risk of experiencing depressions and anxiety. By incorporating physical activity into your routine, you can nurture your mental health and experience a positive impact on your overall well-being.

Building an exercise routine

 To reap the benefits of exercise, it’s important to develop a tailored routine that suits your individual needs.
Below are some guidelines to help you get started: 

Start slowly and listen to your body

Begin with low-intensity exercises and gradually increase the duration and intensity as you feel comfortable. Pay attention to your energy levels and adjust your routine accordingly. Your body knows best, so be kind to yourself and progress at a pace that feels right.

Find joy in your activities

Discover an exercise that sparks joy and fits seamlessly into your lifestyle. Whether it’s a brisk walk in nature, dancing to your favourite tunes, swimming, golfing, learning tai chi, or tending to a garden, choose activities that bring you happiness. By prioritising enjoyment, you’ll be more motivated to maintain a regular exercise routine.

Identify the best time for exercise

Consider your schedule and personal preferences to determine the optimal time for your workouts. Finding a time that works best for you increases the likelihood of consistency and success in your exercise journey.

Embrace the power of a support network

Engaging in physical activities with your friends and family can make exercise more enjoyable and keep you accountable. Having a support network not only enhances the fun factor but also provides the encouragement and motivation needed to stay committed to your exercise program.

Integrating exercise into your life during and after cancer treatment is an empowering decision that can positively impact your well-being. By following the recommended guidelines, building an exercise routine that suits your needs, and nurturing a supportive network, you can embark on a transformative journey towards improved physical and mental health. 

Disclaimer: While exercise is generally safe for most individuals undergoing cancer treatments, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before initiating an exercise program. They will provide valuable guidance tailored specific to your situation. Please be aware that there may be certain days during your treatment when it is not advisable to engage in exercise. Prioritising your well-being and seeking professional advice will ensure a safe and effective approach to incorporating exercise into your cancer journey. 

references

Exercise During Cancer Treatment, 2022, Cancer.Net, viewed 18 May 2023,
< https://www.cancer.net/survivorship/healthy-living/exercise-during-cancer-treatment> 

Physical Activity and the Person with Cancer, 2022, American Cancer Society, viewed 18 May 2023,
< https://www.cancer.org/cancer/survivorship/be-healthy-after-treatment/physical-activity-and-the-cancer-patient.html> 

Exercise During and After Cancer Treatment: Level1, 2022, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, viewed 8 May 2023,
< https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/patient-education/exercise-during-after-cancer-treatment-level-1> 

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