Many recent studies have shown that exercise can be an effective means of preventing and aiding in the treatment of cancer. One such study is “Midlife Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Incident Cancer, and Survival After Cancer in Men,” which can be accessed here: Exercise Study.
According to this research, men with high CRF (Cardiorespiratory Fitness) were found to have significantly lower incidence of lung and colorectal cancer than those with low CRF. Other studies have shown that exercise decreases the risk for breast and other types of cancer as well.
Reasons that exercise provides these benefits are many:
• Decreases insulin and leptin resistance
• Improves circulation, which improves the distribution of oxygen into body tissues
• Helps you to feel better. This is in opposition to the traditional recommendation for rest while undergoing chemotherapy, which does not provide psychological benefit in combatting depression. Of course, the level of activity needs to be adjusted according to one’s current level of fitness and wellness.
• Reduces risk of relapse
• Improves effectiveness of accompanying treatments such as chemotherapy
• Provides immediate benefits
• Concentration on exercise allows the mind to move away from fear and worry
Granted, some people feel so sick during chemo and radiation treatments that they can’t conceive of doing any exercise. That being said, if you have a friend or relative undergoing cancer treatments, one way you can help is to be an exercise partner, whether that involves a game of tennis or just going for a leisurely walk in the park.
As stated above, one of the reasons that exercise is helpful is because it brings an increase of oxygenation to the body. Deep breathing exercises can do this as well, and if someone is unable to exercise for whatever reason, it may be possible that benefit can still be attained through breathing practices.
The news release to another related study on the benefit of exercise, done through the Mayo Clinic, “Mayo Study: Exercise Can Help Cancer Patients, but Few Oncologists Suggest It,” can be accessed at this LINK. The research was published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.
Regarding which types of exercise are best, ideally it would involve a combination of high-intensity, strength training, and walking but any bit of exercise is better than none. It is also important to avoid sitting for too many hours, no matter how much you exercise. Extended sessions in front of the computer or television should be broken up by stretch breaks. And remember that everything should be done in moderation. And of course, exercise is not the only component in an anti-cancer protocol—proper nutrition, elimination of toxins, and a positive attitude, among other things, are important as well.
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