Moving Well


During cancer treatment, chemotherapy and other ongoing treatments leave patients drained, resulting in them having barely any energy left to do much else. By incorporating physical activities into their lifestyle, cancer patients will be able to experience a boost in mental and physical well-being, and also strengthening their immunity against the disease. This is because exercise programs such as yoga and strength training help release mood-boosting endorphins, which are fundamental in your battle against cancer. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, only leads to muscle weakness and loss of body functions. Therefore, it is important to maintain and engage in physical and mental activities during your cancer treatment.

14 Oct 2019
Benefits of regular exercise for cancer patients
1. Helps in strengthening your mind and body.
2. Helps in improving balance and lowers the risk of falling by building muscle strength.
3. Helps in lowering the risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes.
4. Helps in reducing the side effects of cancer treatment.
5. Helps in improving blood circulation and ensuring proper blood flow to all parts of your body.
6. Helps in reducing fatigue and lethargy.
7. Helps in maintaining a healthy weight.
8. Helps in improving your quality of life.
9. Helps in improving mental well-being and boosting your confidence while reducing your risk of going into depression.
10. Makes you independent and actively able to conduct daily routines.

Here are some tips on how to include exercise into your daily schedule:

1. Understanding Your Body’s Needs
Exercise for cancer patients differs for every individual. Based on your treatment and the type of cancer, you will need to be careful about the amount of exercise required. Full-body strength training or resistance training is recommended to stimulate new muscle growth, while yoga reduces stress-inducing cortisol levels and increases flexibility.

2. Incorporating Routine Chores as Part of Your Fitness Regime
If you do not fancy the idea of exercising during your cancer treatment phase, then you should try to incorporate every chore and routine task as part of a fitness regime. This will allow your body to adapt and familiarise itself with physical activity. For example, you can fold clothes at one end of a room and dry clothes on the other. You could also place clothes in the basket by picking up them up, one at a time, and walking to the basket.

3. The Importance of Hydration and Nutrition for Exercise
Hydration and nutrition are both important in allowing your body to perform at its fullest potential during exercise. If you do not provide your body with enough hydration before and during exercise, you will experience a reduction in blood volume and fluid available to form sweat. Dehydration will restrict your body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to your muscles and prevent overheating, both of which will have adverse effects on your exercise performance. Nutrition-wise, priority should be given towards providing your body with enough fuel for the day’s exercise routine. This comes in the form of fats and carbohydrates, with focus given towards the muscle glycogen in carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-rich foods include bread, rice and pasta, which should be consumed 1-4 hours prior to exercise.

4. Reaping the Benefits of Exercise through Training Variation
To maximise the benefits of exercise on your body, an exercise regime should incorporate a variety of different exercise routines. Aerobic training that includes walking and running improves cardiovascular efficiency and delivery of blood to your muscles, while resistance training that includes resistance bands and weights improve muscle growth and strength. Additionally, resistance training can also help improve bone density and reduce fatigue. For cancer patients, aerobic exercise could also incorporate routine daily tasks such as doing the laundry, taking a shower, getting dressed or cooking food. On the other hand, resistant exercises could include movements like standing up from a chair, carrying your own bag and climbing flights of stairs. Another form of exercise that should not be overlooked is core training, which is the backbone of mobility. Your core muscles, which consist of the hips, pelvis, abdominals, lower and mid-back, neck regions and glutes, are used in every movement your body makes, even when lying in bed. Hence, it is necessary to strengthen your core to improve balance and overall stability.

5. Training with a Partner to Help You Stay Focused
To ensure consistency in your exercise regime, it is recommended to train with someone close to you. This will help empower you to push through training on days when you don’t feel up to the task. Get into the habit of sharing fitness goals and ideas with each other to stay focused and motivated during your fitness journey. Medical professionals the world over recommend that all cancer patients maintain a fit physique to cope with the demands of treatment. If the standard training programs do not appeal to you, perhaps you could try more fun training programs such as Gentle Flow Yoga or Fitball Core, as it may help you cope with the side effects of chemotherapy which includes fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, anemia, depression and anxiety. But before you commit to a training program, it would be best to consult your physician on which activities would yield the best results for you