Adding exercise to the to-do list during the drainage process can be almost impossible. But Denise Chakoian, a certified cancer specialist and owner of CORE Studios, Cycle.Fitness.Lagree in Providence, RI, and a cancer survivor herself, says it’s more than possible – it’s healing. “You have to find what works for you and your body,” he says. Perhaps even more than when you are healthy, exercise can have such profound benefits for your physical and mental health that it can even be a key factor in becoming and feeling better.
The Benefits of Exercise During Cancer Treatments
We often hear about the many reasons to stay physically active, but not usually in the context of an aggressive disease like cancer. However, this is where some of the powerful health boosting effects really come in handy.
For example, exercise can stimulate the growth of white blood cells, strong immune cells that can help fight disease.
Chakoain says exercising during cancer treatments is also vital to maintaining your muscle mass and lean tissue. “The muscle structure of the body changes during cancer treatment if a patient does not exercise at all,” he explains. Staying active can help you stay stronger and avoid injuries due to possible bone or muscle loss.
“With months of chemotherapy without any kind of strengthening or cardiovascular exercise, you risk not only losing muscle and cardiovascular disease, but also losing bone density,” says Chakoian. “Maintaining strong muscles and a healthy heart helps in the process of chemotherapy and other cancer-related treatments.”
Also, we can not deny the power of the mind to influence how our bodies feel. Although diagnosing a disease such as cancer can cause stress and depression, building a positive mindset through physical activity can help your body fight it. “Your mental attitude can be your best medicine. “Exercising during cancer can release a lot of stress,” says Chakoian.
Instructions for safe exercise during chemotherapy and radiation
Chakoian says that tips for exercising during cancer treatments of any kind rely heavily on your workout routine before you are diagnosed.
“If you are an avid runner, cyclist or yogi, keep doing what you love, but you have to learn modifications in every way,” he says. For example, if you are a regular runner, consider shortening your routes and jogging at an easier pace. Instead of speed training, stick to strenuous running that keeps your cardiovascular system strong without putting too much strain on your body.
Chakoian also advises athletic patients to switch to more intense activities such as running or HIIT in a mind / body way such as yoga or Pilates in the coming days to prevent excessive stress on the body.
Try this calming yoga flow to help your body recover:
If you were mostly sedentary before your diagnosis, Chakoian advises a gentler approach. “If one has not exercised long before treatment, I would recommend a light walk to start and increase each week,” says Chakoian. “For strength training, I would recommend doing only weight-bearing exercises, such as squats from a chair, and ruffles holding a chair to begin with, and then removing your arms.”
Instructions for exercising after cancer surgery
Activity restrictions, including the types of exercise you can and cannot do after cancer surgery, will depend on the type of surgery you have had. However, Chakoian says there are some general recommendations.
“The first thing you want to do after a cancer surgery is work on any lymphedema in the body that forms after the surgery,” he says. This is the accumulation of fluid in the soft tissues of the body in the area where you underwent the surgery. before your cancer routine. “Consult an anti-cancer specialist for movements that will help you clear it safely.
Precautions to be taken
The specific physical precautions and contraindications for exercise depend on your treatment. For example, if you have a port in your chest for chemotherapy and you will need to wait for the chest area to heal, which usually takes about four weeks, before doing any strength training on the upper body.
The most important instruction is to listen to your body. Your treatment obviously takes precedence over your training. Talk to your medical team about your fitness routine and consult an anti-cancer specialist if possible. Chakoian wishes physical activity to be part of the treatment discussion more often.
“The body responds. “Recognizing the exercise and blood flow you give your body during and after exercise can be very helpful in testing blood and cells for healing and replenishment.”
Exercise should add to the positives in your life – to feel better and get better – not to add more stress. “Exercise is something you can feel good about with what you do for yourself daily or weekly,” says Chakoian. “Find this one thing that motivates you every day and do it.”
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