CRITICAL CARE of MIND & BODY II - EXERCISE

Remember fatigue is the most common side effect of all cancer treatment and you have to combat it first if you aim to take the best treatment and have the greatest success.Fatigue begets inactivity and depression and neither gets better with prolonged daytime rest – they get worse. Regular exercise is key and research shows IT IS AS EFFECTIVE AS MANY CHEMOTHERAPY DRUGS!! Studies in the most common cancers, breast,prostate &colon show a 30-50% decrease relapse rate in patients that do brisk exercise 30 minutes 3-5X/week. it is reasonable to extrapolate that to other cancers which being less common have not been studied yet. If you are willing to go through grueling chemo/XRT that can make you feel awful, why not develop an exercise routine that will make you feel great. You make sacrifices in your schedule for chemo - why not do the same for exercise? 

Everyone starts from a different physical and functional baseline and gets to decide what is exercise for themselves - it may mean walking to the mailbox each day this week and around the block next week or it may mean a regular brisk walk for an hour or a workout at the gym. Something regular is the key. Now is the time to indulge yourself - you need it - deserve it: Join a gym, start off with a physical trainer to develop a safe routine, find a buddy, get a dog to walk, get a wearable exercise tracker, set goals, keep a fitness journal. Aim to walk 5,000 steps/day. Use the stairs, park further from your destination, walk faster.

 Goals are fourfold: Stay engaged in life. Move your muscles and joints to avoid stiffness, disability and pain. Get tired enough that you can sleep better with less medication. Discover and wash your mental/spiritual laundry. BONUS: If you build muscle you not only burn calories doing it but even while you are sitting on the couch muscle burns 2 1/2 times as many calories as fat just staying alive.  

It is easy to get overwhelmed by cancer and withdraw from life. Push yourself. Schedule activities and exercise expectantly and then give yourself grace if you just can't meet the challenge. 

A body without exercise gets stiff. Stiff muscles and joints get sore. That can be confused with the pains of cancer fearfully leading to less activity and perpetuate a vicious cycle to disability.

 If you are already stiff and sore start with massage then the get to walking regularly. Check with your doctor first so you can reassure the masseuse it is okay. I have never seen someone harmed by massage and have never prohibited it but there are rare circumstances when caution is in order.

I have encouraged some folks to get a massage regularly both as a reward for enduring all they're going through and also to catapult them to the next level of activity. Many friends ask what they can do to help. Making meals, doing wash, providing transportation, becoming a regular walking partner etc. all come to mind but starting and sustaining a massage fund so you can get one regularly guilt free is another idea. 

  Walking is a wonderful way to maintain strength and flexibility and to meditate or pray. Swimming is another as are dance and spin classes at the local YMCA. Add music with a driving beat will pump up your energy and take your mind off the workout.  Be intentional about it even when you are fatigued and you'll discover that you have both more energy, better bowel function and better sleep - and with those you will both tolerate and get better treatment - and better treatment results. 

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