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PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES FOR CANCER PATIENTS

Exercises performed daily will help boost your mental and physical health, and strengthen your body’s immunity as well. Through exercise, endorphines, which are ‘happy hormones’, are released, boosting your mood and keeping you positive. These are powerful weapons to wield in the battle against cancer. Having a sedentary lifestyle instead makes your muscles weak and stunts regular bodily functions.

14 Oct 2019

Cancer treatment which includes chemotherapy can take a huge toll on your body physically, sapping you of the energy that you need to go through each day. Thus, it is vital that you incorporate a full-body training plan which will help you fight cancer in a healthier and stronger way. Here are some tips on how to include exercise in your daily schedule:

1. Keep Your Training Options Open
An effective fitness regime during chemotherapy and other treatments should involve a variety of exercises to reap the full physical and mental benefits for your whole body. Aerobic exercises such as walking and running provide cardiovascular efficiency and strengthen your immune system, while resistance training involving the use of resistance bands and weights improve strength and muscular power. Not into routine training methods? Fret not, as daily activities such as doing the laundry, bathing, dressing and cooking also provide aerobic benefits, while resistance movements that include standing up from a chair, carrying your own bag and climbing flights of stairs help build muscular strength. Resistance exercises also help in improving bone density and reducing fatigue. Another form of exercise that can be incorporated into your fitness plan is core training. Core muscles are the backbone of mobility, and are used in every body movement, even when lying in bed. Hence, it is necessary that you have a strong core as this will allow you to move freely and prevent injury. If these methods or activities do not appeal to you, you could also try out alternative fitness classes such as Yin Yoga or Tai Chi

2. Listen to Your Body’s Needs and Requirements
The type of exercises a cancer patient should perform varies across individuals. For adults, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activities per week is recommended. Thus, you would need to be very careful with the amount of physical activity done to avoid exertion, which could result in adverse effects on your body.

3. What You Do Daily Can Become Your Go-To Fitness Plan
Staying fit during cancer treatment is vital, especially in being able to do activities which are part of your daily routine. Think about the movements you will need to perform to fulfil your routine, such as doing the laundry. For example, you could have two piles of clothes flanking either side of an empty laundry basket, and alternate between picking up articles of clothing from either pile before throwing them into the basket. Repeat this process on a daily basis to activate your muscles and gradually increase the load on your muscles by incorporating activities that involve more strenuous movements.


4. Hydration and Nutrition for Physical Activity
If you do not provide your body with adequate hydration before, during and after exercise, it could result in dehydration and overheating, which would make it difficult for your muscles to heal and grow properly. Aim to drink at least 2 litres of water per day. Incorporating a meal plan that comprises of whole grains, lean meat, high-protein foods such as beans, legumes, fish and low-fat foods is also fundamental in providing your body with its required nutritional requirements to grow stronger, particularly on days when strength training is involved.

5. Stay Focused by Training with a Partner
To ensure consistency in your exercise regime, it is recommended that you train with a partner. This will help empower you to push yourself, especially on days when you feel like giving up. Also, the sharing of fitness goals and ideas with each other will keep you both motivated to hit the milestones set during your fitness journey and keep each training day exciting.

Staying fit throughout cancer treatment is recommended by physicians the world over. Apart from allowing your body to cope with the draining effects of chemotherapy and other treatments, it will also help you cope with the common side effects of chemotherapy which include fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, anemia, depression and anxiety. But before you commit to a fitness plan, it would be best to consult your physician for a plan designed just for you.