As a Former Elite/Springbok athlete, Athletics Coach, Breast Cancer Advocate and Survivor as well as a Patient Navigator with a special interest in the benefits of exercise. Exercise is so beneficial for all of us.
When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in July 2017 it came as a huge shock. Me former Elite Athlete, fit, always leading a healthy lifestyle, never smoking or drinking. I still got Breast Cancer. Cancer does not discriminate. I had a remarkable recovery something I put down to the Power of Positivity and what my running has taught me discipline, commitment and consistency. As well as to be able to push through pain and endure. I was riding my eliptigo bike 10 days post mastectomy and running again 4 weeks later.
So many people fear exercise but like most other things in life if you start slowly and build up, as long as you are consistent, its really not that bad.
Just 30 – 40 mins per day brisk walking or running 4 to 5 times per week is so beneficial. Research has shown that a healthy balanced diet with moderate intensity exercise, done over a longer period of time as opposed to intense bursts is a good fat burning formula. It doesn’t have to be the comrades marathon.
Mental health benefits include decreases depression and anxiety and helps manage stress levels. Improves learning abilities and sharpens memory, protects the brain from ageing, promotes better sleep and improves self-esteem. Release of endorphins also known as runners high make you feel happy and relaxed. Mental health Specialists are advising patients with mild depression to exercise rather than take antidepressants.
Bone Health exercise helps to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis in later life. Improve cardiac health and function.
Weight loss and control. Healthy balanced diet plus exercise and a normal body mass index can help reduce the chances of Breast Cancer by 20%. Normal BMI for height plus healthy weight and exercise keep oestrogen levels at a healthy level. High BMI causes more oestrogen production which can fuel breast cancer growth.
Exercise not only benefits Cancer patients but also patients with other chronic diseases like diabetes, High blood pressure and cholesterol as well as arthritic conditions. This includes helping to manage certain side effects of treatment, fatigue and depression.
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy as well as hormone therapy can have late and long term side effects. Many of these late effects can develop many years after completion of treatment. Again exercise helps to prevent and control many of these effects. These include managing side effects of current treatment, like nausea and vomiting, fatigue, helping improve mood, improve and control appetite. The late term effects like improving cardiac function. Cardiac dysfunction can be caused by certain chemotherapies, radiation and hormonal therapies. As well as joint function and bone health can be managed and improved with exercise.
The benefits far outweigh the negatives. Lets face it we all need to exercise. Life can change in a heartbeat. Live. Love and embrace life.
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