Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guest Blog: It Ain't Just About Fitting Into Your Skinny Jeans

I received an email this morning from a guy who found my fitness blog and was interested in guest-posting an article about the importance and benefits of physical fitness for cancer patients (or cancer survivors).  I think it's an incredibly important message, so I decided to post the article on this blog as well.  I've had so many acquaintances, friends and relatives suffer with or die of cancer lately, it's a subject that is very much on my mind these days.

Physical Fitness and Cancer
                   ~ by David Haas
Almost everyone can improve his or her life with a moderate, consistent physical fitness program. The physiological and psychological benefits from physical fitness simply cannot be overstated. As the treatment for and prognosis of cancer patients has greatly improved over the last decade, it has become clear that physical fitness can greatly improve the quality of life and energy levels of cancer survivors. There are two different types of physical fitness. Aerobic activity requires oxygen and helps build up stamina and endurance. Aerobic activities include walking, jogging, riding a bike and hiking. The second type of physical fitness is referred to as anaerobic. Anaerobic exercise includes weightlifting and stretching. These activities increase strength and flexibility.

According to the National Cancer Institute, research indicates that physical activity after a diagnosis of breast cancer may be beneficial in improving quality of life, reducing fatigue and assisting with energy balance. Physical fitness may be an important component of lymphoma treatment, mesothelioma treatment and the treatment of a number of different types of cancer. Physical fitness may also benefit survivors of mesothelioma, lymphoma and prostate, testicular and colorectal cancers after their disease has went into remission.

The physiological benefits of physical fitness include:

1. Increased blood flow to the extremities and improved circulation

2. Increased levels of energy

3. Increased levels of strength

4. Improved stamina and endurance

5. Improved oxygen utilization

6. Decreased level of fatigue daytime exhaustion
The psychological health of anyone going through cancer diagnosis, treatment and remission can be severely challenged. Let's face it, cancer of any type is a very frustrating and scary disease. In those who survive, the psychological toll that the disease has on their minds can linger for years. The psychological benefits of physical exercise in cancer survivors include, but are not limited to:
1. Decrease in levels of anxiety

2. Decrease in levels of feelings associated with depression

3. Increase in feelings of inner strength and well-being

4. Decreased stress and tension

5. Decreased levels of insomnia and daytime fatigue

Of course, I recommend checking with your primary care physician or oncologist before beginning any exercise routine. This is extremely important because there are some inherent risks with physical fitness and the general health of a person with cancer can certainly be compromised. Physical Fitness can certainly be a beneficial component of any cancer treatment program and can also help the person who has survived cancer.

Take care of yourselves, people.

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