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The Sport Digest - ISSN: 1558-6448

Exercise and Treating Cancer

Cancer is a very serious disease. It is potentially life threatening if not detected early enough or treated aggressively. Cancer can take many forms and affect almost any area of the body. If the disease is not detected early on, it could spread to other areas of the body. This could limit the effectiveness of treatments and worsen the prognosis for the patient. If there are steps that one can take to help lower this risk of developing cancer, then it would be wise to do so.

Regular physical activity has been shown to be quite effective in lowering the risk of several types of cancer. The global health benefits of consistent, moderate exercise can also indirectly act as means to lesson the risk of cancer in the body. Estimates exist that the incidence of new cancer diagnosis could be significantly decreased if all people participated in regular activity. The guidelines for exercise to receive health benefits are not complex or require a lot of equipment. Simply walking several times per week for half an hour, or working in the yard everyday can potentially provide a protective effect. It is a simple step to take that could potentially save millions of dollars in medical expenses. It could also save thousands of lives that would be affected or lost to cancer.

Significant evidence is available to suggest that exercise programs are effective as an ancillary treatment in the recovery of cancer patients. Light to moderate exercise has been shown to improve strength and functional capacity levels in cancer patients. Levels of fatigue, depression, and pain have been subjectively reduced in patients undergoing regular physical training. This helps to improve the ability of a patient to perform activities of daily living and improve the quality of life. There is also the possibility that proper amounts and intensities of exercise can help improve immune functions and help in recovery. This information is contrary to the previous beliefs of many in the health care field that cancer patients should not participate in exercise for fear of adverse effects. Exercise programs under proper guidance and monitoring do not tend to harm, but help patients more successfully cope with the primary and secondary effects of cancer and the many times harsh treatments for the disease.

Exercise also plays an important role in providing hope and inspiration as well as a way to declare a triumph over the disease. Many athletes who have fought cancer have returned successfully to their respective sports. Many survivors have undertaken physical feats such as climbing a mountain or running a marathon to signify a physical, emotional, and psychological victory over the disease. Many have used such accomplishments to provide awareness and hope that there can be positive outcomes for those diagnosed with cancer. Exercise and competitive events have been organized to bring attention and raise money for the treatment of cancer.

Exercise professionals have an obligation to those they work with to educate themselves on the possible benefits of exercise and its role in cancer prevention and treatment. This area is often overlooked by the public as well as physicians and others in the medical community. Many others are not aware of the positive attributes that developing an exercise program for healthy and diseased populations can provide. Exercise professionals should attempt to work with doctors who treat cancer patients to provide another avenue of treatment and support. Patients who suffer from cancer need qualified individuals who can assist them in individualizing an exercise prescription based on their needs. Professionals and patients alike should be optimistic as further research is conducted to examine the effects of exercise on cancer prevention and treatment.


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