For a long time, experts assumed that cancer patients should get as much rest as possible. However, health experts have recently learned that assumption wasn’t true. Exercise is as important for people dealing with cancer as it is for everyone else.
As the Mayo Health Clinic notes, the benefits of exercise are largely the same for cancer victims as for everyone else. But there are some important differences in how people suffering from mesothelioma and other cancers should approach their exercise.
The benefits of exercise for cancer victims
Exercise does more than strengthen your body and improve flexibility. Medical experts have learned that cancer victims often struggle when their body mass decreases, and regular exercise can help survivors maintain a healthy weight. As the American Cancer Society notes, it can also:
- Improve your mood and resilience
- Boost your energy
- Reduce the effects of pain
- Help you think clearly
- Increase your appetite
- Improve your sleep
- Minimize the side effects of your treatment
Exercise can also improve treatment outcomes for breast and colon cancers. It is uncertain whether regular exercise helps fight mesothelioma tumors, but it commonly supports a better quality of life.
How is exercise different after a diagnosis?
Both your cancer and your treatment will affect your ability to exercise. To make certain you’re exercising safely and using your time effectively, you should talk to your doctor. Your exercise plan should account for such things as:
- The stage and location of your cancer
- Your treatment plan
- Your energy and fitness levels
- Current and potential side effects
As with any exercise plan, you might start off gently and build your activity over time. However, it’s important to acknowledge your current health. This may mean you want to:
- Start slowly, go easy and limit the amount you push yourself
- Watch out for dizziness
- Begin with a few minutes of warm-up activities
- Make sure your space is safe, well-lit and clear of hazards
- Stay hydrated
- Keep it fun and rewarding by setting short-term and long-term goals
There are all kinds of activities you might enjoy, from walking to dancing to gardening. The important thing is that your exercise plan addresses a few different things. Exercise helps the body more than one way, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) suggests your plan should consider:
That’s a lot to consider for an exercise plan, especially when you have countless other things on your mind. Fortunately, you don’t have to make the plan all on your own. Your doctor and treatment team should be able to help or at least point you in the right direction.
Your treatment is more than just medicine
There’s no guarantee that exercise will help you beat the odds, but it’s important to remember that you are not a statistic. To that end, your treatment is about more than fighting a tumor and living longer. It’s also about living better.
It’s not clear if exercise may extend your lifespan, but all the evidence suggests it will help your quality of life. Just remember that exercise is different after your diagnosis. You want a plan that fits your current situation and goals.