Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Giving Cancer the Boot

According to a recent report from Harvard Medical School, physical exercise is for more than just losing weight and cutting down on health problems associated with obesity.  More and more research shows that even mild regular walking can help patients with a multitude of different kinds of cancers, from breast cancer to mesothelioma.

Reductions in Recurrence

According to the Harvard study, it was found that women diagnosed with breast cancer who regularly walked three to five hours a week were half as likely to experience a recurrence of their cancer than women who did engage in physical exercise for less than an hour per week.

Another finding of this study is that people who are active as part of their cancer treatment tend to have longer and better survival rates than individuals who simply did not engage in much physical activity at all.

Improved Mental Outlook

Aside from the obvious health benefits of improved flexibility, improved heart rate and improved strength, physical activity can provide you with other advantages.  Many cancer patients struggle with feelings of depression and anxiety when they receive their diagnosis.  Traditionally, doctors have recommended that cancer patients relax and take it easy as they go through chemotherapy and radiation.  However, with recent studies, doctors are now taking another approach because of both the physical and mental health benefits that come with exercise and physical activity.

Often, patients will report that they begin to feel better emotionally when they begin to become physically active.  From a scientific standpoint, this is because physical activity stimulates neurochemicals that make you feel emotionally and physically better.

You may also feel better because it just feels good to be moving around and not stuck inside doing nothing.  Physical activity does not need to be strenuous.  Simply puttering around in the garden or taking a walk down the block can be a good starting place.  As you build your strength and stamina, you can begin to do other things, including activities that allow you to interact with friends and family.

Better Quality of Life

Being physically active also improves your quality of life.  Often, when you are feeling depressed and ill, you isolate yourself from others.  You may feel like you cannot do things you used to enjoy and do not want to burden others.  However, if you remain physically activity, you can continue to engage in activities that you enjoy.  This will keep your attitude positive and help you see your way through the dark days.

Better quality of life also means that you retain some feeling of being in control of your illness.  Through remaining physically active, you can feel like you have the strength and the determination to fight your illness and win.  So give cancer the boot and get moving toward feeling better.

--This entry was provided by "guest blogger" David Haas.  Thanks David!

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