Moving Well


Chemotherapy and other forms of cancer treatment can be physically draining for a patient. Thus, incorporating fitness into your lifestyle is vital, as it is one of the biggest cancer-fighting weapons.

14 Oct 2019
Daily exercise helps in boosting your mental and physical health, apart from strengthening your body’s immunity. Exercise also enables the release of ‘happy hormones’ which gives you an overall mood boost and keeps you feeling positive. In contrast, having a sedentary lifestyle makes your muscles weak and prevents your body from functioning properly. Here are 5 ways to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle, in your mission towards a stronger, healthier you.

Benefits of regular exercise for cancer patients
1. Improves your physical ability and mental strength.
2. Reduces the side effects of cancer treatment.
3. Helps improve balance and lowers the risk of falling by building muscle strength.
4. Allows you to independently and actively conduct daily routines.
5. Improves blood circulation and ensures proper blood flow to all parts of the body.
6. Lowers the risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes.
7. Improves your quality of life.
8. Helps control your weight.
9. Reduces fatigue and lethargy.
10. Improves mental well-being and builds self-confidence while lowering the risk of going into depression.

Tips to include fitness as part of your daily schedule:
1. Physical Training Should Not Be a Mundane Affair
Incorporating a fitness regime that includes a variety of exercises allows you to reap the physical and mental benefits to its fullest potential. Performing daily activities that require muscle strength can be improved with the help of resistance training, which uses weights and resistance bands to stimulate muscle growth. Additionally, strength training also helps improve bone density and reduce fatigue. Aerobic training, on the other hand, promotes cardiovascular efficiency and improve the quality of sleep. Exercises like brisk walking, running and dancing works best. Aerobic exercises could also be incorporated into daily routines such as doing the laundry, bathing, dressing and cooking. Alternatively, resistance-focused activities which include movements like standing up from a chair, carrying your own bag and climbing flights of stairs can be incorporated as well. Another recommended option is core training exercise, which is the basis of mobility. The muscles in your core are used in every movement that your body makes, even when lying in bed. Hence, it is necessary to strengthen your core to be able to move about freely and prevent injury. However, if you’re not particularly fond of these training methods, you can also consider joining a Gentle Flow Yoga or Pilates, which are more fun in nature.

2. Hydration and Nutrition are as Equally Important as Exercise

Hydration before, during and after is extremely important for exercise. Aim to drink at least 2 litres of water per day. Adequate hydration promotes the production of good sweat and prevents body overheating, which can cause muscle cramping. Combining hydration with proper nutrition that includes a diet plan focused on whole grains, lean meat, high-protein foods such as beans, legumes, fish and low-fat foods will allow your body to heal and grow properly.

3. What You Do Daily Can Be Your Physical Training
If you are not a fan of specific training programs, fret not. Routine activities can be implemented as part of a fitness programme to develop physical and mental health. For example, have two piles of clothes flanking either side of an empty laundry basket, and alternate picking up articles of clothing from both sides before throwing them into the empty basket. Repeat this process on a daily basis to activate your muscles and gradually increase the load on your body with more intense activities once your body starts being comfortable with a particular activity.

4. Listen to Your Body
The recommended intensity of physical activity for cancer patients varies across individuals. For the average adult, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity per week is advised. Be sure to listen to your body and pick exercises that suit your goals best.

5. Stay on The Right Track with a Training Partner
To ensure consistency in your exercise regime, it is recommended that you train with a partner who can motivate and empower you to push through each day, particularly on days you lack the motivation to get in a workout. Do also get into the habit of sharing goals and ideas with each other, as this will allow the both of you to keep your fitness journey exciting and strive towards hitting bigger milestones.

Physical training during cancer recovery is recommended by physicians the world over, as it allows you to manage treatment side effects such as fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, anemia, depression and anxiety better. But before you commit to a fitness plan, it would be best to consult your physician on the training programs that suit you best.