exercise and cancer
Taking part in regular activity before, during and after cancer treatment can help you take back control. Many people find that the improvements in energy, strength and fitness means they are better able to join in with the activities and tasks that they enjoy and people often find that this alone can help them feel more like themselves again.
There are also a huge range of heath benefits to keeping active. We all know exercise is good for us at any stage to improve heart health and reduce the risks of diabetes among others. But exercise is also considered the number one treatment for the most common and debilitating side effects of cancer treatment such as fatigue and nausea. Studies also tell us that increased activity can help with other common experiences such as pain, anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation after treatment. Importantly, greater levels of exercise are also shown to reduce rates of cancer related deaths and cancer recurrence rates as well as improve your strength and function on a daily basis. Even the smallest increase in activity can improve your quality of life.
Benefits of Exercise on your cancer journey:
- Lower rates of recurrence of cancer
- Reduced risk of other health problems
- Reduced risk of and improves symptoms of Lymphoedema
- Muscle Mass and Strength
- Physical Function
- Range of Movement and Flexibility
- Immune Function
- Bone health and density
- Quality of Life
- Body Image
- Confidence with movement
Where to start
Getting back into or keeping up exercise can feel daunting when going through or getting over cancer treatment. Many people feel that treatment side effects and fatigue among other factors can make it tough to commit. The good news is that "Exercise" doesn't have to mean a trip to the gym. In fact at times it could simply mean avoiding inactivity that could lead to deconditioning and other health concerns.
When your energy is precious, picking an activity that is meaningful to you is important, it could be a walk to the shop each day with a friend or a few minutes of work in the garden. Keeping up even a small amount of activity each day can maintain muscle mass and actually improve symptoms of fatigue and nausea leaving you better able to build fitness back up when you feel able.
Remember that something is always better than nothing! Even the smallest increase can improve your quality of life!
What to aim for
We now have a huge amount of great evidence to back up that those who are able to fit in 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and 2 -3 resistance sessions each week experience not only improved strength and fitness but also better mood, balance and importantly also show a reduced rate of cancer recurrence.
150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity could include a brisk walk, time on an exercise bike or anything meaningful and enjoyable to you. The 150 minutes might seem daunting to start with but you can break this into as many manageable sessions in the week as you need to get you going. Start slowly and gradually build up your time or effort as you feel more able.
Resistance training could mean simple weights, weight bearing exercises or even an appropriate Pilates or yoga class. It is so important because as we age we naturally lose muscle strength and bone density. Certain cancer treatments and especially a period of reduced activity throughout surgery or recovery can speed up this process.
Building your muscle mass back up can help not only with your strength but also balance, confidence with daily activities and importantly reduce risks of osteoporosis and diabetes.
If you would like to build up your activity but feel you could benefit from some guidance along the way we are happy to help.
Latitude Wellbeing offers 1:1 rehabilitation, and group classes to clients at any stage along their cancer journey and recovery.
All services are run by a fully trained and experience physiotherapist, giving you piece of mind and confidence to focus on your recovery. We offer:
- Home visits
- 1:1 Physiotherapy,
- 1:1 Clinical Pilates
- 1:1 Yoga, Breath Work and Meditation
- Group Yoga Classes
- Next Steps Exercise Classes
If you would like any more information about how exercise can help during and after cancer we are always happy to chat. If you would simply like some guidance getting back into exercise or feel that there are too many factors stopping you at the moment we would love to hear from you to discuss how we may be able to help.
Find out more or make a booking by getting in contact here...