If quality of life is important to you, you’ll want to care about exercise. Whether you’re dancing with cancer or not, are you ready to feel more alive? Consider it.
Exercise is any activity where more energy is spent versus, let’s say, sitting at a computer all day. Physical activity includes dancing, vacuuming like Mrs. Doubtfire, rock climbing, walking, kayaking, lifting weights, running, biking, hiking, swimming, surfing, pilates, yoga, and the list goes on. The benefits of regular exercise are incredible. From feeling happier, more self-assured, looking more youthful to lowering risk of illness. Exercise adds years to your life and pep in your step. Doesn’t that inspire you to explore the world of fitness?
Exercise Prevents Cancer – It’s True
Solid evidence exists that increased physical activity is tied to lower risk of preventing certain cancers.1 Exercise lowers the levels of hormones, such as insulin and estrogen, and of certain growth factors that have been associated with cancer development and progression in breast and colon cancer.2
In a 2013 analysis of 31 studies, physically active women had a lower risk of breast cancer than inactive women. The average breast cancer risk reduction linked to physical activity was 12%. Physical activity has been connected to a reduced risk of breast cancer in premenopausal and postmenopausal women; however, the evidence is stronger for postmenopausal breast cancer. Therefore, women who increase physical activity after menopause may also have a lower risk of breast cancer than women who don’t.2
In regards to breast cancer, there’s clear evidence that physically active women have about a 20-30% lowered risk, compared with inactive women. It also appears that 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity are required to decrease the risk of breastcancer.3
Colon cancer is one of the most widely studied cancers in relation to physical activity. A 2009 analysis of 52 studies that examined the association between physical activity and colon cancer risk found that the most physically active individuals had a 24% lower risk of colon cancer than those who were the least physically active.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service, less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Only one in three adults participate in the recommended amount of physical activity per week. With all of that non-activity, you do the math.4 It’s alarming yet motivating because you’re in control of how you spend your time.
There are 1,440 minutes in a day. If the average amount of sleep is 8 hours per night, which is 480 minutes. Out of the 960 minutes left you spend awake, you certainly can find 30 – 60 minutes per day to get moving. Don’t you agree?
Exercise Improves Quality of Life for Cancer Patients
It is important for cancer patients to manage stress because it can have a profoundly negative effect
on biological systems and inflammatory profiles.5 Let’s look at how QiGong, Yoga, and Aerobics can improve quality of life for cancer patients.
(pronounced chi -gong) is an ancient Chinese exercise and healing method that involves meditation, controlled breathing, and movement. Consider it as a moving meditation. It’s very low impact and yields renewed energy when complete.
Researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have found Qigong, an ancient mind-body practice, reduces depressive symptoms and improves quality of life in women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer. Lee Holden has a simple 2 0-minute morning Qigong routine you can try.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “union.” It’s an ancient Indian practice that harmonizes body and mind through breathwork, meditation, and holding poses (or asanas). You don’t have to be very flexible to try a class. Yoga itself will help you become more flexible.
With the physical, emotional, and cognitive difficulties that cancer patients face, yoga seems like a great remedy.It helps to address common consequences of illness: pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation, and exhaustion.6
Recent studies examining yoga during cancer treatment for adults were helpful for quality of life, sleep quality, fatigue, and spiritual well-being, as well as, improving psychological issues such as depression, distress, and anxiety.6
This research is promising because of yoga’s uniquely appropriate role for cancer patients and survivors: its gentle movements and focus on breathing and meditation work well for those who are experiencing fatigue and pain. Also, its spiritual focus may resonate also, as cancer can evoke existential themes of control, identity, relationships with others, and meaning.6
Aerobic exercise also improves quality of life for cancer patients. Aerobics improves the cardiovascular system through sustained movements just as rowing, cycling, jogging, or running. An aerobic exercise program can be prescribed as a treatment for fatigue in cancer patients. Talk with your doctor about this.
Tips to Reduce Fatigue:
- ● Set up a daily routine that lets you be active when you feel your best.
- ● Get regular, light-to-moderate intensity exercise.
- ● Get fresh air.
- ● Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day unless your doctor tells you no. More fluids are needed to prevent dehydration when you’re exercising, sweating, orin a hot environment.
- ● Keep things you use often within reach to save energy.
- ● Use relaxation and visualization techniques to reduce stress.
- ● Prioritize sleep, even more than 8 hours a night to enhance healing.
- ● Ask for help when you need it.The first step on the spiritual journey of cancer is awareness. Start observing your thoughts, especially the ones that pop up when you think about changing your physical routine. Do any of these sound familiar?“I’m too tired to exercise.”“Why didn’t I focus on my health before?”
“So-and-so is fit and I’ve been failing at this for YEARS.”
“I’m not healthy enough to move my body 30 minutes a day.”
“Oh, I’ll never stick to a routine. Why bother?”
Jot down your thoughts about exercise and ask yourself, “Is this true? Where did this come from? How can I make it a positive thought?”
A lot of people don’t want to take responsibility for this area of their life. It’s not so easy to change your physical routine. It’s a choice and a practice. Better quality of life is only a few gentle movements away.
World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. F ood, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective Exit Disclaimer .
National Cancer Institute. Physical Activity and Cancer .
Europe PMC. Physical activity and cancer prevention–data from epidemiologic studies. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Facts & Statistics: Physical Activity. Science Daily. Qigong improves quality of life for breast cancer patients, study suggests. Psychology Today. Yoga and Quality of Life for Cancer Patients.