The Best Exercises For Cancer Patients by guest writer David Haas
While rest and relaxation are essential for all cancer patients, numerous clinical studies reveal the importance of exercise during treatment and recovery. Exercise offers the same health benefits for cancer patients as for the general population. Regular exercise improves heart health, emotional health, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, muscle strength, bone density, and joint functioning. Physical activity also protects against obesity, back pain, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other health problems.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, adults should strive for 2.5 hours of aerobic activity a week. The department’s guidelines also recommend muscle strength training on two days a week. Most cancer patients can participate in a regular fitness program, if the movements do not cause pain, breathing difficulties, or an abnormal heart rate. The most effective workouts incorporate stretching and flexibility exercises, aerobic activities, and muscle strength training. Cancer patients should never begin an exercise program without talking to their doctor.
Stretching And Flexibility Exercises
Stretching and flexibility exercises are valuable activities for cancer patients, especially after surgery or long periods of inactivity. Flexibility is necessary for balance and numerous daily activities. Gentle stretches warm the muscles, increase flexibility, and improve circulation.
Even people with extreme fatigue, body weakness, and breathing difficulties — such as mesothelioma and leukemia patients — can do gentle stretches while sitting or standing. Physical therapists can assist them with the movements, if necessary. Other cancer patients may prefer advanced stretching exercises, such as Hatha yoga and Pilates.
Aerobic Exercises And Activities
Aerobic activities are some of the most fun workout options for cancer patients. They offer abundant health benefits, too. Aerobic exercises burn calories to help patients control their weight. This can reduce the risk of cancer returning.
Aerobic exercise is any activity that gets the heart pumping and blood flowing. Walking, jogging, bicycling, dancing, and swimming are popular examples. Sports like tennis and basketball are also aerobic activities. Cancer patients should start slowly, perhaps ten minutes at a time. They can increase the duration of exercise, as well as its level of intensity, as their fitness level improves.
Strength Training Exercises
Strength training exercises help build muscle. This is extremely important for cancer patients, since chemotherapy and long-term bed rest causes muscle weakness and loss. Cancer treatments and inactivity also reduce bone density, and strength training helps to strengthen the bones. This can prevent osteoporosis and other health problems in the future.
Many cancer patients are unfamiliar with strength training exercises. They typically involve isometric exercises, resistance bands, and light weights. Physical therapists and personal trainers can recommend good strength training exercises. In fact, they can custom-tailor workouts to meet the physical needs and demands of their patients.
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