It is an absolute privilege welcoming Melanie Bowen as the first guest blogger for Momarock.
Exercise Has Benefits for All Stages of Cancer
“You have cancer.” The words are hard for cancer patients and their loved
ones to hear. Cancer is a debilitating disease that has no boundaries. Powerful
therapies can treat the disease, but they take a heavy toll on physical and
Pain, nausea, digestive complications, issues with eating, and extreme tiredness
are common side effects of cancer treatments. Anxiety, depression, other mood
disorders, and cognitive difficulties are common emotional effects. Staying active
during and after treatment can improve a patient’s general well-being.
A Common Misconception: Bed Rest
Based on traditional medical wisdom, doctors once encouraged their patients
to get plenty of rest and avoid physical activity. They considered exercise to be
detrimental to those who were fighting cancer symptoms and treatment side
effects. Bed rest was thought to save vital energy and strength.
Even today, some people in the medical community believe this medical
misconception. However, a growing body of evidence now supports exercise
for patients who are going through cancer treatments. In fact, the American
College of Sports Medicine revised its fitness guidelines to include exercise
recommendations for cancer patients. They even offer certification courses for
cancer exercise trainers.
Exercise for Cancer Patients
Numerous studies support the notion that exercise benefits cancer patients.
From clinical research to personal testimonies, exercise has been shown to
help patients handle the grueling effects of cancer treatment. Physical activity
reduces muscle loss, bone loss and fatigue, which are common side effects of
Contrary to popular belief, exercise increases energy levels to combat the
extreme tiredness that most cancer patients experience. It also encourages
the patients to eat regularly, which is another important benefit since cancer
treatment often causes loss of appetite.
Exercise has emotional benefits too. A cancer diagnosis can cause anxiety and
depression, and cancer treatments also contribute to mood disorders. Patients
who exercise during treatment feel more in control of their lives, their disease and
After treatment, learning that cancer is in remission can improve physical and
emotional well-being. However, there is still a chance that the cancer can return.
According to the American Cancer Society, exercise may reduce the recurrence
of certain types of cancer including breast, colon and prostate cancers. Studies
also link exercise with improvements in endometrial and lung cancers.
Exercise in Palliative Care
Certain types of aggressive cancers, such as mesothelioma and advanced lung
cancer, are terminal. This does not mean, however, that exercise cannot benefit
patients with late-stage diseases. Exercise in palliative care focuses on symptom
relief, comfort and quality of life. It can transform the end of life for patients who
are facing cancer death.
Melanie is currently a Master’s student with a passion that stems from her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illnesses. To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.