Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fitness Benefits for Cancer Patients

Fitness Benefits for Cancer Patients
by David Haas (Guest Writer)

Fitness is increasingly been seen to have life-changing effects for cancer patients, whether they have just been diagnosed, are undergoing treatment, or are in remission. Physical fitness and healthy diets are potent weapons for cancer patients to use in their fight against this disease. Recent research has even prompted the American Cancer Society to issue new guidelines recommending exercise for cancer survivors.

One way that cancer patients can benefit from regular exercise is through its effects on their immune systems. Exercise makes the immune system more effective, partly by increasing the flow of the lymph system. The lymph system is helpful in carrying toxic materials out of the body, but it cannot move on its own like the bloodstream does. Instead, it moves when the body moves it. This can allow the body to detoxify and support the immune system.

Exercise also increases the activity of immune system components like natural killer T-cells. These important cells roam the body, looking for pathogens to kill. If they are able to identify cancer cells, they can kill these as well. Exercise helps increase both the number and activity of these immune system cells.

Another benefit of exercise is that is will raise your energy levels, even for patients undergoing mesothelioma treatment. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can leave cancer patients feeling drained and fatigued. The fatigue can even last deep into the day. Instead of feeling tired only when asleep, the fatigue is spread out throughout the day, preventing you from getting your daily tasks done.

Exercise raises your metabolic rate and gives you more energy. This will help keep you awake and alert throughout the day, and help you sleep longer and deeper at night. It is the deep stages of sleep that are associated with the greatest degree of healing. Your body will need to recover from the effects of both the cancer and treatment, so proper rest is critically important to your full recovery.

Exercise can have psychological benefits as well as physical ones. Research has shown that regular exercise increases the neurotransmitters in your brain, like serotonin and dopamine. These important chemicals can be depleted in many cancer patients, but exercise helps restore them.

Serotonin and dopamine are produced by your brain to foster communication between brain cells. Dopamine also helps your brain execute motor skills and governs concentration and mood. Serotonin is used by your brain to regulate mood, body temperature, and appetite. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression. Dr. Simon Young, in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, showed that physical exercise increases the building blocks for serotonin in the body.

Anxiety and stress are typical complaints of cancer patients. Having to undergo rigorous testing and treatment often leaves them feeling tired and irritable. Exercise fights stress and anxiety through the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. Endorphins provide pain relief to the body and reduce stress and anxiety. The effects last for hours after your exercise is over.

Follow Mr. David Haas at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

1 comment:

  1. Fitness is nothing more than a state of healthiness. It would be a good idea if people commit themselves to some fitness regimen all their lives.

    South Orange County Cancer Fitness