The Benefits of Exercise When Dealing With Cancer

 Photo: Esther Zeitlin (March 16, 1930 - February 28, 2012)

Photo: Esther Zeitlin (March 16, 1930 - February 28, 2012)

I am posting this great article, written by David Hass, Family Hospitality Coordinator at Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, in honor of my Aunt Esther Zeitlin (and her family), who recently passed from Ovarian Cancer. May she rest in peace.

Aunt Esther was a skilled pianist and tennis player, and outstanding painter, sculptor and dancer. She raised my four cousins, and was a loving grandmother. In my aunt’s case, cancer attacked her muscles early and rapidly, causing debilitating muscle fatigue, that made all activity difficult to impossible. My family has experienced a great loss.

The Benefits of Exercise When Dealing With Cancer
By David Hass

When a person is diagnosed with any type of cancer, it can be a frightful experience. With the advent of modern technology, doctors and other medical professionals can treat many cancers such as mesothelioma and others successfully with medicines, specialized treatments, and surgical intervention. However, there are many things that a cancer patient can do himself or herself to improve their health. Many patients have found that engaging in an exercise program can be very beneficial to their overall well-being. When dealing with cancer, the proper type of exercise can provide many benefits to a cancer patient.

After clearing it with a doctor, an acceptable exercise regime should be initiated as soon as possible. Even when a person has cancer, it is important to keep the organs of the body that are not affected by the disease in good working order. Exercise can strengthen muscle tone, decrease excess fat, improve the functions of the heart and circulatory system, lower blood pressure, increase energy, and improve overall physical health.

Dealing with the disease of cancer from day-to-day can be emotionally draining for a patient. Keeping doctor’s appointments, being x-rayed frequently, having blood tests done, going for treatments, are all stressful tasks that must be carried out by the patient. However, these endeavors are all overshadowed by the dreaded possibility of dying from the disease. Understandably, many patients become prone to depression.

Exercise can help improve a cancer patient’s mental health or outlook about their disease by elevating their mood. A person’s mood is impacted by exercise because it produces endorphins. Most forms of exercise produce chemicals called endorphins that circulate through the body while exercising. They create what is commonly called a “runner’s high.” These endorphins produce pleasurable feelings much like the feelings that are created when taking morphine. Endorphins are manufactured in the brain and managed by a complex system that utilizes neurotransmitters to deliver them to the circulatory system.

While exercise is one way that a person can deal with their diagnosis of cancer, a patient will need the support of family members and friends. Some patients might find it beneficial to join a support group.

For additional information, visit the webpage of the Harvard Medical School regarding the benefits of exercise.