Guest Post – Maintaining Fitness While Battling Cancer



Melanie Bowen recently approached me about writing a guest post for my blog.  I was honored that she wanted to provide content for my blog and delighted when I found out the topic of the post.

Maintaining good fitness level will not cure cancer, but it may relieve some of the symptoms associated with it.  Cancer survivors who engage in an appropriate level of exercise have a higher quality of life, increased energy level and the strength needed to get through a very difficult period in their life.  

Regardless the stage of recover, maintaining an appropriate fitness level, though it may seem daunting, is often possible.  An exercise plan should be thought of as another component to an overall treatment and recovery plan.  Depending upon the stage of recovery a light, medium or advanced fitness program my be beneficial.  Anybody starting a new fitness program should consult with their doctor prior to starting.

Light exercise may be beneficial for someone whose disease is in a more advanced stage or who is having difficulties moving.  These patients may benefit from preforming light stretches.  For example, someone suffering from  lymphedema due to breast cancer surgery may find that symptoms are relieved by simply stretching their arms.  Light exercises may also be a good option for people suffering from mesothelioma since these patients often have compromised lung function making strenuous activity too taxing for them.  Additionally, light stretching helps to increase flexibility, may help to relieve the fatigue that accompanies chemotherapy and may help improve mood for those experiencing symptoms of depression.

Moderate exercises, like water aerobics, can help a patient to maintain a healthy weight, strengthen bones, keep joints and muscles in good condition, improve cardiovascular function, encourage proper circulation and improve flexibility. Water aerobics can be beneficial for those in the process of recovering from cancer or from the treatment for the cancer whose body may be in a weakened state.  These people need to build strength without putting additional stress on the body.  The water offers the resistance needed to build muscle without the impact of other exercises.  It is especially good for those with joint complications.  The water keeps the body cool so the body cannot become overheated and the exercise is low impact.

Advanced exercise may be beneficial for those patients who have been in recovery for a longer period of time.  People at a more advanced stage in their recovery may notice that they have lost muscle and perhaps gained fat. Advanced exercise will increase activity level so that the patient can continue to build strength and cardiovascular endurance.  As a result of a more rigorous exercise program, patients may notice that they have more energy and strength.  The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends that patients begin a weight-training regimen to regain muscle mass.  It is beneficial to begin a weight training regime with the least amount of resistance and increase the weight and number of repetitions as strength and endurance increases.  A variety of weight machines can be found at any gym and the people who work at the gym are more than happy to assist with learning how to properly use the machines.  

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.

Find Your Om Balance – Terri