How Can Fitness Help People With Cancer

By Melanie Bowen

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. Those who receive a diagnosis of one of the deadlier forms of cancer, such as mesothelioma, often feel that there is little they can do to help their odds. However, there are steps those who have cancer can take to help them deal with their disease as well as possible. Here some of the ways that fitness can help those with cancer.

- Before being diagnosed
Fitness has been shown to prevent some forms of cancer. By preventing obesity and encouraging a healthy diet, physical fitness can be viewed as a means of reducing the odds of being diagnosed. Furthermore, those who exercise are often more in tune with their bodies and can detect if something is wrong earlier than those who are not in top shape. Finally, fitness can prepare people to deal with their disease as well as possible after diagnosis.

- While battling cancer
Cancer treatment often involves chemotherapy and radiation, which can make it difficult to exercise. Before beginning these treatments, however, people can take steps to improve their fitness, which will help them deal with the unpleasant side effects of these treatments. Determination and high levels of energy can help tremendously when undergoing cancer treatment, and fitness can help boost both through the release of endorphins. During breaks in treatment, patients can try to perform moderate levels of exercise, which may help them relax and enjoy their time away from the hospital.

- Into remission
After successfully treating cancer, survivors will still have to actively monitor for recurrences in the future. Some cancers can come back, and those who were previously diagnosed with cancer are more likely to develop it again in the future. Fitness can help survivors reduce the odds of developing cancer by helping to mitigate risk factors. Changes in fitness level may also be an early indicator that something is wrong. Again, early diagnosis can make a major impact on overall survival rates.

No matter what form of cancer one is diagnosed with, the diagnosis will likely be shocking but you can get through it. Often, patients feel as if their future lies in their doctors' hands. However, those who take steps to improve their physical fitness can help themselves before, during and after treatment. 

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