There are promising signs that show that a cancer patient’s fitness level greatly increases his or her quality of life, as well as helping with sleep, energy levels, immune system function, and even mood. Whether you have just been diagnosed, are currently undergoing treatment such as mesothelioma treatment, or are in remission, exercise can help you in many different ways.
Adding an exercise regimen to your existing treatment is a good way to combat anxiety and depression- a common complaint of cancer patients. The battle against cancer can leave you feeling moody, anxious, and depressed. In turn, this can leave you with less energy to fight your cancer.
Regular exercise boosts levels of chemicals in your body called “endorphins”. These are chemicals that help regulate your mood and reduce sensations of pain. You may have heard of “runner’s high”. The effect is created when a runner reaches a certain threshold and endorphins are released into the body. You can experience the same effect through regular exercise.
When endorphins are released you will feel a spreading sense of contentment and peace. Any pain you may be experiencing in your body will be reduced or eliminated altogether. And there is more good news: unlike narcotic pain relievers, there is no addiction potential for endorphins and no side effects. The effects last several hours following exercise.
Increasing your fitness level through exercise also pays off in terms of sleep quality. You should sleep longer and more deeply, reaching those deep levels of sleep that allow for quality healing. Your cancer treatment may leave you feeling foggy and fatigued during the day. Exercise can help you get better rest at night so that you feel more energetic and alert during the day.
A study conducted at the University of Georgia discovered that sedentary adults who took part in as few as 20 minutes of low-intensity exercise three days a week, reported experiencing less fatigue and more energy.
Regular exercise increases energy by increasing the body’s metabolic rate. Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns energy in the form of food or calories. Exercise helps build muscle, which, in turn, increases metabolism long after your exercise routine has ended. Muscle burns calories, even at rest. So you should see your weight come down if it is too high, and lose fat around your body. The weight loss effect alone is a good mood booster, creating a great incentive to continue your positive routine.
Exercise also boosts your immune system. People who exercise regularly have been found to have greater activity of killer T-cells in their body. These killer cells could then be available to help support your immune system if it has been weakened by your cancer treatment. This means you are less likely to fall prey to an opportunistic cold, flu, or other contagious disease.
If you decide that exercise is right for you, then be sure to consult with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you.