Friday, December 16, 2011

How Much Does Exercise Benefit Cancer Patients?

It has long been proven that more active adults are less likely to develop health problems over time; exercise and physical activity every day can lower the risk of developing immune diseases, heart attacks, and other complications from aging. But can exercise also affect those who have just been diagnosed with cancer or who are in remission from it? Recent research suggests that yes, healthy, active adults are much less at risk for developing certain kinds of cancers than others and that regular exercise for patients undergoing treatment and after treatment ends can have positive effects on the health as well.

While the link between exercise and rare cancers like malignant mesothelioma hasn’t been explored as extensively, the link between exercise and colorectal, breast, and endometrial cancers have been reported on. Specifically in regards to colon cancer, physical activity has been known to positively affect metabolism, insulin regulation, and energy in active adults.

According to one study by The National Cancer Institute, exercise has been found to be beneficial for cancer survivors after treatment. The effects of exercise after treatment and into recovery for these common cancers has been positive, with many patients who are physically active being much less likely to have a recurrence or to die from complications afterwards.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle after diagnosis is important in regards to quality of life. The benefits to the body are numerous, as well as benefits to one’s emotional state and self-perception. Exercise can improve mood, reduce fatigue brought on by treatment, and generally bolster self esteem as recovering patients become stronger again. All of these things can influence how a patient recovers and lives during and after major illnesses.

Patients must be careful not to overdo exercising. But if recovering patients are able, taking small steps just after recovery can set up good habits for continuing the exercise in the future. For instance, walking longer distances every day or taking the stairs instead of the elevator in buildings are small things one can do to add exercise into a daily routine. However, all patients and healthy adults alike should remember to consult a doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.

The link between exercise and the risk of certain cancers has been studied extensively in the last ten years. With guidance, any patient’s quality of life can be improved with regular exercise.

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