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Thank you David Haas for sharing your passion and gift of helping cancer patients improve their quality of life.  I appreciate your contribution to my blog.

~Carol Whitaker

Fitness Recommendations for Cancer Patients

The National Cancer Institute provides a Factsheet on Physical Activity and Cancer. This resource defines the term physical activity as "any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles". It discusses the known relationship between physical activity and certain specific cancers for which this relationship has been previously studied, such as breast, colon, and uterine cancers, and indicates that there are ongoing additional studies regarding the relationship between fitness and cancer. In short, physical fitness is all to the good and generally reduces the risk of getting cancer, reduces risk of a recurrence once it is in remission, and improves quality of life for cancer patients who are still undergoing treatment.

It is a good resource to check out, especially if your interest is in one of the more common forms of cancer. But even if you are dealing with something less common, for example if you are going through mesothelioma treatment, the general consensus is increasingly in line with the notion that it is best for cancer patients to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and, instead, get with the (fitness) program. Prestigious institutes, researchers, doctors and patients are all getting on the pro fitness bandwagon, and with very good reason. The evidence increasingly indicates this is the way to go -- for your health, for your improved odds of survival, and for your psychological well being.

Generally speaking, it is recommended that you pursue an aerobic activity at least three to five times per week, for at least twenty to thirty minutes each time, assuming you are well enough. Additionally, muscle building exercises and stretching exercises should be part of your weekly routine. Your age and medical condition should be taken into account when deciding just how much to tackle. If you simply aren't well enough for that level of activity, it is better to do something, no matter how little, than to do nothing. Further, the type of cancer you have and the type of treatment you are receiving should be taken into consideration when determining the specifics of a fitness program while undergoing treatment.

If steroids are a part of your treatment, as can be true with breast cancer, the odds are high you will be putting on unwanted pounds. Not only is excess weight hard on your self-image at a time when it is already under assault but it also increases the risk that your cancer will eventually come back. Now would be an excellent time to start on a sensible diet and fitness plan geared towards trying control your weight. No, that does not mean you should starve yourself. Instead, you should eat healthier and focus on exercises known to promote weight loss, like cardio workouts. 

–David Haas
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