Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cancer Patients and Survivors - Exercise??

I am asked consistently – How do you do it? Biology has a lot to do with it. I have been very fortunate that treatment thus far has been very successful at keeping my cancer “stable”. However, I do attribute a lot of my success so far to various other components. This blog post is just one of the many ways that I have chosen to live that has been beneficial to my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Cancer patients and survivors should strive to get the same 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise that is recommended for the general public, according to Schmitz, who is part of a 13-member of American College of Sports Medicine expert panel that presented the new recommendations.

Though the evidence indicates that most types of physical activity – from swimming to yoga to strength training – are beneficial for cancer patients, clinicians should tailor exercise recommendations to individual patients, taking into account their general fitness level, specific diagnosis and factors about their disease that might influence exercise safety, the panel recommends.

So, the former recommendation that patients undergoing chemotherapy should rest more is no longer true. When I first began treatment back in 2009, I was very week and fragile. I had lost 60 lbs from treatment and could barely walk to my kitchen – let alone exercise. As I have become acclimated to treatment, I have found that the more active I am, the better I am able to deal with everyday life. Even a consistent regime of walking is beneficial to a cancer patient and to survivors. When I make the time to make exercise a part of my day, I just feel better. It not only helps with the physical aches and pains, but also helps me to manage my stress. There are just so many benefits.

Yesterday, my daughter and I registered for our first half-marathon here in Minnesota. I am excited to share this experience with her and it is something that she will remember doing with me for a lifetime. None of us are promised tomorrow, so I find that in coping with the mental and emotional aspects of having cancer, planning future events has helped me to remain positive. Plus, there is the added benefit that it is a healthy activity that we can do together. A couple of years ago, I would never even have dreamed of being in a place where I am physically capable of running or even walking 13.1 miles. I’ve come a long way and I attribute it to being active and just living my life.

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