Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A Brief Overview of Fitness and Cancer By: Melanie Bowen

Hello everyone, I'd like to introduce to you our guest speaker. Her name is Melanie Bowen and she has an important message to share. Please read her article on how to take care of ourselves especially if you or a loved one lives with Cancer.


A Brief Overview of Fitness and Cancer


Although there are many debilitating conditions that can problematize an individual's ability to lead a productive and positive life, cancer can be a particularly difficult disease to grapple with. Despite the challenges that can result from having cancer, however, there are a plethora of things you can do to alleviate symptoms associated with the condition. As many health experts know, one of the greatest things an individual struggling with cancer can do to optimize wellness during recovery is exercise. Below you will find three different types of exercises that can be done to make the condition more bearable.  

Light Exercise Recommendation: Breathing Techniques

For those unfamiliar with light exercise, it is a form of physical activity in which you will not break a sweat. Because it is a less strenuous form of exercise, you will be able to talk and in some cases even sing while you complete the exercises. One great form of light exercise that cancer patients should seriously consider implementing is breathing techniques.

Simple breathing techniques affords many great benefits to the cancer patient, including improved circulation and blood flow, reduced fatigue, and improved lung function. This type and level of exercise is encouraged for those who are battling a prognosis of mesothelioma or other lung-related cancers. In completing a breathing exercise-which will entail consciously controlling and listening to every inhale and exhale-the patient can greatly enhance her or his respiratory function while taking in more oxygen.  

Moderate Exercise Recommendation: Yoga

Cancer patients who have a formidable degree of strength and agility may find that they are capable of handling moderate exercises. When this is the case, yoga is very advisable. Although defined broadly, yoga is basically a form of physical activity that emphasizes breathing deeply and stretching to achieve control over the mind and body. The benefits of doing yoga are diverse and include improved physical functioning, decreased fatigue, improved flexibility, decreased cortisol (stress hormone) levels, decreased pain, and better quality sleep. Additionally, yoga can play a role in reducing the individual's experience of insomnia.

Advanced Exercise Recommendation: Weight Training

Cancer patients who have a substantive amount of strength may find that weight training is an advantageous and even ideal form of exercise to participate in. In short, weight training is a type of physical activity that involves lifting weights for the purpose of building cardiovascular strength, toning muscle, and/or improving muscle performance. Weight training can be done in a broad variety of ways. For example, one can lift 20-pound weights for 30 minutes every other day as a stand-alone exercise program. However, one can also mix weight training in with other forms of advanced exercises such as running or cycling. The benefits of weight training are diverse and include increased levels of energy, an improved cardiovascular system, and improved muscle strength.

The National Cancer Institute recommends weight training for people who have increased fat tissue or reduced muscle. Moreover, prostate cancers, head and neck cancers, and cancers of the gut and stomach can result in decreased muscle mass. To make the exercises effective for you, start with lighter weights and gradually build up to larger ones that you can lift for greater lengths of time. As you begin to lift heavier weights, you will see greater results.

Although cancer can be a very difficult disease to grapple with, it doesn't have to be. By implementing any of the exercises listed above to your workout routine, you can begin to cultivate a more productive and positive lifestyle as you decrease the severity of cancer symptoms. In so doing, you'll be sure to walk in greater health and wellness.


Melanie is currently a Master's student with a passion that stems from her grandmother's cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness.  To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.

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