Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Exercise: The Wonder Drug

Editor's note: the following is a post from Allison Brooks, a fresh-on-the-scene biomedical anthropologist. Through her studies, she has gotten into nutrition and natural health, and asked to do write a guest post on our blog to share her passion for the subject.

Exercise: The Wonder Drug

Although it was once discouraged during treatment for cancer, exercise is now highly recommended as a way for cancer patients to fight the effects commonly suffered during chemotherapy and radiation. Physical activities such as running, walking, swimming, and other forms of aerobic exercise have proven to give patients benefits that reach far beyond the physical. In addition, studies now show that cancer patients who exercise and remain physically fit have a lesser chance of recurrence. Included here are some of the benefits experienced when you exercise 150 minutes over the course of the week.

Mood Improvement

Depression and anxiety are naturally experienced after diagnosis and during treatment, especially when the cancer has a low
life-expectancy rate. Negative emotions can be detrimental on overall health but it's hard to simply push feelings aside. Walking or running in the fresh air and sunshine can provide an important boost in mood by releasing negative feelings. As endorphins flow stress slips away and is replaced by feelings of calm and happiness.

Release of Stress

Stress is a common problem faced before and during cancer treatment. When a cancer patient feels unable to control what's going on in their body it can greatly impact the quality of their life. Many types of exercise help reduce stress. Swimming is an effective way to remain physically fit and is easy on the joints.

Improved Cardio Health

Sound cardiovascular health is important because it provides the body with energy. As a cancer patient deals with day-to-day activities it's common to experience fatigue. Participation in exercises such as biking or
running improves cardio health and can get the patient outdoors and around other people.

Redirect Your Focus

It's natural to focus on illness when you're dealing with cancer but it's better for the body and mind to focus on wellness. Exercising helps patients to think about feeling better and getting better, rather than on cancer itself. This positive mindset is beneficial even after cancer treatment is complete.

The extensive studies conducted regarding the impact exercise has on cancer patients has served to prompt the medical society to rethink the stance they once held about physical activity. Instead of recommending that a cancer patient rest up and take it easy, physicians now recognize the importance of getting their patients involved in a physical fitness program they enjoy. The long-term benefits of reduced risk of cancer recurrence coupled with the beneficial ways in which it makes dealing with treatment easier makes exercise a vital part of every treatment plan.

Allison can be reached at naturallie23@gmail.com

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