Cancer treatment is generally thought of as surgery or chemo and radiation therapies to rid the body of cancer cells. While eradicating cancer in the body is the most important aspect of treatment, it is not the only component. Studies have shown that physical therapy can be extremely beneficial for those who are currently undergoing, or who have just completed their cancer treatment. In discussing Physical Activity and the Cancer Patient
, the American Cancer Society lists numerous short term and far reaching benefits of becoming more physically active for Cancer fighters and survivors.
Radiation and chemo leaves a patient extremely fatigued and sometimes even listless. While this is understandable, the more a person remains sedentary, the more tired they become. This downward spiral opens the door to muscle atrophy, weight gain after treatment, and also depression. During treatment, the ability to do strenuous activity may be limited but studies have shown that low to moderate exercise was well tolerated even by patients who were in the midst of their chemo and radiation treatments. Physical activity during treatment decreased recovery time significantly my maintaining core strength and limiting mobility issues.
Exercise also releases endorphins thereby staving off depression. Fatigue is reduced and the immune system is also given a much needed boost. Patients who have joined exercise classes or exercise groups saw even greater benefits with increased peer support and social contact. It has long been accepted that mental attitudes and emotional well-being is key in fighting any type of disease including cancer so this benefit cannot be overstated.
Maintaining strength during treatment also keeps complications to a minimum. Infections were decreased as were musculoskeletal problems such as osteoporosis. Greater range of motion, better pain management, increased endurance, and better balance resulting in fewer injuries are likely when participating in therapy to maintain muscle and cardio health. One of the most prevalent of chemo complications is overwhelming nausea. Doctors have found that moderate exercise during treatment can greatly reduce nausea.
Your physical therapist will work with you to customize a program that they feel will be most beneficial to you. This program will be based upon what type of cancer you have, what treatment you are undergoing, and what your overall fitness level was when you began your treatments. The goal is to stay as active and fit as possible without compromising your cancer treatment regimen. Low to moderate aerobic exercise will likely be introduced initially with increase strength training worked in as the patient is able. Some patients may benefit from flexibility and meditative exercise such as Yoga or Tai Chi. Such exercises contribute to physical health as well as stress reduction, and mental health.
Some exercise may be ok to begin on your own but be sure to check with your doctor before starting any physical activity program. You are better off relying on a professional physical therapist to help you set realistic goals and come up with a plan to help you achieve them without putting your health further at risk. Wyoming residents can call North Platte Physical Therapy
today to get started on the road to recovery and long standing good health.