Academic News, Fitness News

Exercise can make cancer treatment easier

Coping with a serious illness like cancer can be difficult enough without having additional burdens such as anxiety, depression and fatigue.

Fortunately, an individual’s level of fitness is largely under their control and can help alleviate the symptoms that come along when battling the disease.

As time goes by, we are learning more about how different types of exercise can be extremely beneficial to cancer patients, whether they have just been diagnosed, are undergoing treatment, or are in remission.

The illness may limit you somewhat as you start an exercise regimen, but that is no reason not to begin. As you progress, your ability to accomplish more both in and out of the gym will most likely increase along with the positive results of your health.

As you see the positive benefits of exercise for yourself, you will be motivated to continue; however, getting started, as with most things, can be the hard part.

It has long been known that aerobic exercise is good for health, but in the last few years we have also learned that it fosters the development of new brain cells and improves memory.

Researchers from Cambridge University in the UK and the US National Institute on Aging combined to study the effects running has on the brain.

They found that just a few days of running stimulated the brain to produce new cells in the section of the brain dealing with recall and memory.

Researchers said the study was based upon earlier work that demonstrated that exercise enables the brain to stay healthy by increasing plasticity of synapses and by getting the brain to make new cells.

They were unsure what exactly it is about exercise that fosters the growth of new brain cells, but speculated that it may be because blood flow is increased.

Another benefit that comes from exercise is the reduction of anxiety – and fighting cancer is nothing if not stressful.

Exercise appears to reduce stress, in part by lowering levels of the hormone cortisol – the “fight or flight” substance found in the body, resulting in lowered anxiety and stress levels and by providing a boost to the immune system, making it more able to fight the disease.

Improving your fitness through exercise can also pay off in feelings of well being and the experience of pain.

Studies have shown that exercise increases levels of important brain chemicals like endorphins, the body’s in-house painkillers.

A vigorous exercise session boosts the levels of these chemicals, fostering feelings of calm, contentment and reducing pain.

Considering that some cancer treatments, like those for mesothelioma, can cause soreness or pain, the implications here are huge.

Article written by guest contributor David Haas


One thought on “Exercise can make cancer treatment easier

  1. Candida Abrahamson PhD says:

    You’re absolutely right about the benefits of exercise in terms of the side effects of cancer treatments (amazing that if people can work through their fatigue to exercise, that in turn lifts their fatigue, no?). But what’s even more astounding to me is what researchers have found about the impact of exercise on recurrence and mortality rates–for all types of cancers. (I just finished extensive survey at Amazing what some good, concentrated physical activity can do!


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