Exercise is a Game Changer
Typically chemo drains you of energy and clouds up your thinking but exercise can combat both of these side effects. My goal was to walk every single day. There were only a handful of days when this didn’t happen.
I listened to audible books or a funny sitcom so I didn’t have to be with myself. My thoughts were so likely to jump to the scary parts of my diagnosis that many days I would listen to something funny. Funny is always good in my book!
I had an activity tracker and wore it all the time. A doctor made the comment one time that you should do some ‘gentle walking’ every day if at all possible. Some days were gentler than others but I think it made a big difference in getting through chemo with few tough side effects.
Exercise also brightened my mood, gave me a challenge, and sent me outside. All of those things made the side effects less traumatic.
Research strongly suggests that exercise is not only safe during cancer treatment, but it can also improve physical functioning and many aspects of quality of life. Moderate exercise has been shown to improve fatigue (extreme tiredness), anxiety, and self-esteem. It also helps heart and blood vessel fitness, muscle strength, and body composition (how much of your body is made up of fat, bone, or muscle).
Can regular exercise reduce the risk of cancer coming back?
This has not been looked at for all types of cancer, but there have been studies of survivors of breast, colorectal, prostate, and ovarian cancers. In these studies, people with higher levels of physical activity after diagnosis lived longer and had less chance of the cancer coming back. Still, more studies are needed to see if exercise has a direct effect on cancer growth.
No surprise but it’s a good reminder. Exercise makes a difference every day and down the road.