Thirty Minutes to Better Health- the Exercise-Cancer Connection

 Thirty minutes of daily exercise can protect against breast, colorectal and endometrial cancers. Some studies indicate it may have a protective effect on prostate cancer and mesothelioma too. In addition to cancer prevention, exercise benefits cancer patients during the treatment phase of their illness. It also improves long-term survival prospects and quality of life concerns for cancer survivors.

As everyone knows by now, physical activity is essential for good health. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) describes exercise as one of three energy balance components. Along with a nutritious diet and healthy body weight, regular exercise makes a huge impact on a person’s general health and well-being.

The Exercise-Cancer Connection

Fatigue, nausea and loss of appetite are common side effects of cancer therapy, particularly radiation treatment and chemotherapy. Daily physical activity may reduce these symptoms or lessen their effects. Exercise is an energy booster and it also boosts strength and mood. This can make the battle with cancer a little easier.

Perhaps the most important exercise-cancer connections are the quality of life improvements enjoyed by those who get regular exercise. Healthy physical activity performed on a daily basis improves balance, coordination and overall fitness. It enables better immune system functioning and helps patients control their weight. It also reduces the stress and anxiety associated with the cancer experience.

The choice to be active is more important than the actual exercises a patient chooses to perform. The best activities and exercise environments are those that engage the body, mind and spirit.

Cancer Fitness Recommendations

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR)  recommends thirty minutes of physical activity every day. Sixty minutes of exercise is even better, but this amount is not always possible. For cancer patients and cancer survivors, the right amount of exercise depends on their condition. It is best to start at a slow and relaxed pace and work up to the recommended intensity and duration.

Fitness experts at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Center and other cancer research facilities have developed exercise plans based on AICR guidelines. These plans are specially designed to fit individual patient needs and lifestyles. Patients should ask their doctors about recommended cancer fitness programs.

Everyday activities generally count toward daily exercise if they are moderately intense actions. Many patients find it easier to break up their 30-minute sessions into shorter, ten-minute sessions. In time, they can increase the exercise duration or intensity to suit their new level of fitness. Please see an Excel Fitness certified personal trainer for more information on exercise benefits for cancer treatment and other tips to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

David Haas

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

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