Though I typically focus on using exercise to keep you healthy, many studies have shown that exercise can improve your quality of life and chances for fighting a disease if you have already been diagnosed. My guest blogger, David Haas, Patient Advocate and Writer at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, created a post describing the benefits of exercise for those diagnosed with serious illnesses like cancer. Please pass on if you know someone who could use the information. These benefits also pertain to you if you are healthy! Always tailor to your fitness level and work with a doctor if you are uncertain.
Ms. Biggy Smalls
Exercise Fights Effects of Cancer
Although it may seem a bit counter-intuitive, exercising while battling a serious illness like cancer is not only possible but powerfully effective in improving quality of life. Benefits are seen in the areas of sleep quality, improved immune system function, energy levels, and relief from anxiety and depression.
Exercise Increases Energy Levels
Regular exercise will raise your metabolism or the rate at which your body expends energy by burning calories for fuel. This will enable you to get more done during the day because you will find yourself experiencing less fatigue. Not only will exercise raise your metabolism and energy levels, it will help you burn fat. Being overweight is a known risk factor for cancer and other diseases and can hinder your recovery from cancer.
If you choose to do a form of resistance training for your exercise, you will also experience an added benefit: increased metabolism when not exercising. That’s right, when you build muscle, that muscle continues burning calories long after your workout, even when at rest.
Vigorous exercise has definite benefits in terms of sleep. You should experience deeper and longer sleep when you incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Exercise helps sleep in a number of ways. One way is that you simply tire yourself out, and your body forces you to sleep in order to recover or build muscle. You may feel fatigued from your cancer treatment, but that isn’t the same as being tired from exercise. Fatigue from treatment tends to make you sleep fitfully and less deeply. And you will likely feel tired during the day as well. The rest you need is taken over a longer span, and you may never feel you are operating at a full energy level.
Exercise encourages the body to sleep once at night and not feel fatigue throughout the day. In turn, this will allow you to get more done in your life, rather than feeling like a zombie all the time.
Effects on Depression and Anxiety
Exercise turns out to be one of the best things you can do to combat depression and anxiety. A study by Harvard Medical School found that exercise was as effective as antidepressants in relieving depression. And the effects of the exercise lasted longer than those of the antidepressants. These drugs tend to lose their effectiveness over time, while the effects of exercise stay with you.
Exercise Helps With Pain Management
Vigorous exercise floods your body with chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals are the body’s own pain killers. They are completely natural and do not lose their effects over time like narcotic pain relievers. Within minutes of a good workout, endorphins begin circulating in your blood stream, bringing soothing pain relief and relief from muscle tension. The effects can last for several hours after exercise. Some cancer patients – even those undergoing mesothelioma treatment – have found they are able to lessen their reliance on prescription pain relievers due to the “endorphin effect”.
About David Haas
Joining the organization in 2011, David Haas is a cancer support group and awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In addition to researching the many valuable programs available to our site’s visitors, David often blogs about programs and campaigns underway at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, as well as creative fitness ideas for those dealing with cancer, while creating relationships with similar organizations.
Photos courtesy of Stock Xchange: http://www.sxc.hu