Cancer treatment which includes chemotherapy can take a huge toll on your body physically, sapping you of the energy that you need to go through life daily. Thus, it is vital that you incorporate a full-body training plan which helps you fight cancer in a stronger way.
Benefits of regular fitness exercise for cancer patients
1. Improves your physical ability and mental strength.
2. Helps improve balance and lowers the risk of falling by building muscle strength.
3. Lowers the risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes.
4. Reduces the side effects of cancer treatment.
5. Improves blood circulation and ensures proper blood flow to all parts of the body.
6. Makes you actively independent in conducting your daily routines.
7. Reduces fatigue and lethargy.
8. Improves your quality of life.
9. Helps control your weight.
10. Improves mental well-being and provides a confidence boost, while lowering the risk of going into depression.
Here are some tips on how to include exercise as part of your daily schedule:
1. Listen to Your Body’s Needs and Requirements
The type of exercises a cancer patient should perform varies across individuals. For adults, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activities per week is recommended. Thus, you would need to be very careful with the amount of physical activity done to avoid exertion, which could result in adverse effects on your body.
2. Turn Your Daily Routine into Your Fitness Plan
If you are not keen on the idea of exercising during cancer treatment, then you should at least try to maintain a level of fitness that is suited towards the fulfilment of your daily routine, such as doing the laundry. Think of the different movements you can perform whenever you incorporate every chore into an exercise routine. For example, fold clothes in one end of a room and dry clothes in the other. Walk to the basket each time you want to keep an article of clothing, one at a time.
3. Focus on Providing Your Body with Adequate Hydration and Nutrition
Not providing your body with enough hydration before, during and after exercise could result in dehydration and overheating, which would make it difficult for your muscles to heal and grow properly. Aim to drink at least 2 litres of water per day. Incorporating a meal plan that comprises of whole grains, lean meat, high-protein foods such as beans, legumes, fish and low-fat foods is also important in providing your body with adequate nutrition to grow stronger, particularly on days when strength training is involved.
4. Experiment with Different Training Methods Yields Full-Body Benefits
An effective fitness regime during chemotherapy and other treatments should involve a variety of exercises to reap the full physical and mental benefits for your whole body. Aerobic exercises such as walking and running result in cardiovascular efficiency and strengthening of your immune system, while resistance training involving the use of resistance bands and weights improve strength and muscular power. Fret not if you’re not a fan of training methods, as daily activities such as doing the laundry, bathing, dressing and cooking could also provide aerobic benefits, while resistance movements such as standing up from a chair, carrying your own bag and climbing flights of stairs build muscular strength. Resistance exercises also help in improving bone density and reducing fatigue. Another form of exercise that can be incorporated into your fitness plan is core training. Core muscles are the backbone of mobility, and are used in every body movement, even when lying on a bed. Hence, it is necessary that you have a strong core as this will allow you to move freely and prevent injury. If these methods or activities do not appeal to you, you could also try out alternative fitness classes such as Zumba and Fitball Core.
5. Train with a Partner for Consistency
To ensure consistency in your exercise regime, it is recommended that you train with a partner. This will help empower you to push yourself, particularly on days where you feel like giving up. Also, sharing fitness goals and ideas with a partner will also help you stay on course to achieving the desired results and keep each training day fun.
Maintaining optimal levels of fitness during cancer treatment is recommended by physicians everywhere. Besides allowing your body to cope with the effects of chemotherapy and other treatments, it will also help you cope with the common side effects of chemotherapy that include fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, anemia, depression and anxiety. But before you commit to a fitness plan, it would be best to first consult your physician to determine the required results for you and your body.