This is a guest post from David Haas
With the stress of cancer diagnosis and treatment, exercise routines are often reduced or forgotten altogether. Though widely acknowledged by fitness enthusiasts as a powerful way to prevent most types of cancer, many patients or their doctors do still not recognize the research that conclusively shows exercise to be an effective complimentary treatment. The leading cancer research organizations are attempting to change this, yet change is slow. Patients are often left to their own devices, when it comes to gaining the benefits of exercise, with a minimum amount of input from their doctor.
Getting Started with Benefits
A huge amount of research has been performed to confirm the many holistic benefits of working out during cancer treatment. Holistic treatments are always preferable to allopathic ones, because holistic forms help by improving the general health status. The cascading benefits of exercise begin with strengthening the circulatory system. This allows an increased delivery of oxygen to the cells, as well as a more even distribution of hormones and nutrients.
The benefits continue with a stronger metabolism and the increased production of growth hormone by the pituitary gland. Growth hormone stimulates IGF-1 production. This secondary hormone is found in every cell of the body and is responsible for cell division and the repair of genetic material. IGF-1 is further necessary for growth in the muscles and other skeletal tissues. It is no surprise that exercise has been found to relieve a wide range of symptoms seen in cancer patients, including fatigue, digestive upset, insomnia, rapid weight change, and emotional disturbance. Exercise has further been found to speed recovery following surgery for breast and colorectal cancer, and increase quality of life for lung cancer patients.
Avoiding Physical Inactivity
It turns out that a sedentary lifestyle is just as dangerous for cancer patients and survivors as it is for otherwise healthy individuals. The call from cancer experts to avoid physical inactivity is recognition of this fact. Every patient will benefit from using some form of exercise. Those with advanced brain or mesothelioma cancer may seem to be in a special class that should rest and avoid exercise, but researchers are challenging these preconceptions.
Patients in special circumstances may face limitations on the amount or type of exercise that can be safely undertaken, but they will gain benefits from physical activity. Physical therapists are often employed for these patients, those recovering from surgery, and others with limited mobility. Experts trained in cancer care can help in any case, but the benefits of their services are often not recognized by doctors or insurance companies.
Never Go Alone
It may seem like patients using exercise as a complimentary treatment are left to go at it alone, yet this should never be the case. No matter the doctor’s feelings on the topic, patients should always share their routines and experiences with medical personnel. A personal trainer, family, and other loved ones can also be strong resources. Finding support is a critical part of exercising through cancer.