Friday, February 17, 2012

Guest article: Liz Davies on using exercise to stop cancer

Guest article: Stop Cancer with Exercise Liz Davies Cancer is a war. It can be won, but fighting the disease can be an uphill battle. Cancer patients need a whole weapons arsenal to defeat this enemy, and exercise is one of the best weapons around. Whether someone is fighting a common, treatable skin malignancy or a rare disease like mesothelioma -- or any other cancer illness -- exercise prepares patients for the battle. Regular physical activity primes the body with strength, energy, and stamina. From the initial diagnosis to treatment and recovery, most cancer patients feel a sense of helplessness and a loss of control. Not only must they deal with painful cancer symptoms, but they also face debilitating treatment side effects. A cancer fitness program helps them cope with these symptoms and side effects. It also renews their sense of control and give them a positive outlook. Physical and Psychological Benefits of Exercise Numerous clinical studies indicate exercise boosts energy and builds stamina -- two things cancer patients need to endure the aggressions of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Exercise builds muscle, strengthens joints, and improves immune system functioning. In addition to physical benefits, regular exercise offers several psychological benefits: lower stress levels, fewer depression symptoms, elevated mood, improved self-esteem, and a better outlook. All this helps cancer patients cope through treatments and recovery. Improved Cancer Survival Rates Some research suggests exercise may improve survival rates for patients with certain cancer types. A 2010 study published in the “Journal of Clinical Oncology” found that exercise reduces the mortality rate for men with prostate cancer. It may also prevent cancer from recurring. Enhanced Quality of Living Cancer patients who engage in regular physical activity enjoy better overall health and well-being. Exercise enhances quality of life in many ways. Besides its impact on treatment symptoms, exercise lowers the risk for other chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. And, since exercise releases “feel good” brain chemicals like serotonin, it promotes emotional well-being and decreases depression risk. Depending on their cancer type and treatment method, most patients can include exercise in their daily routines. As long as the movement does not cause pain or interfere with breathing, exercise is possible and safe during treatment and recovery. The National Cancer Institute recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise on five days a week. Cancer fitness programs should include stretching and flexibility movements, aerobic activities, and strength training. Even small efforts add up in the fight against cancer. Patients should start slowly with exercise, and gradually increase the duration and intensity levels based on doctor recommendations. Liz Davies is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer especially interested in health and wellness. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives because she sees how cancer has devastated so many people in this world. Liz also likes running, playing lacrosse, reading and playing with her dog, April. If you would like to contact her she can be reached at

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