The Benefits of Exercise and a Healthy Lifestyle for Cancer Patients

I had a remarkable recovery from Breast cancer due to my fitness. As a former elite/springbok athlete I have been exercising most of my life. Running has taught me commitment, discipline and perseverance. These traits certainly prepared me well for my own breast cancer journey. In sport you learn quickly about winning and losing, you get knocked down but you get back up and fight just like in life.

Evidence based research has proven the benefits of exercise from a physical, mental, spiritual and emotional perspective. Cancer treatments are extremely harsh on your body and often cause many debilitating long term and late side effects.

Exercise can help to lower the risk of a cancer recurrence can help improve depression, anxiety and moodiness. Improve body image and self esteem. Manage fatigue and improve sleep. Help cognitive function often caused by chemo brain. Help manage nausea and even help control pain. Can help in the prevention and management of osteoporosis and lymphadema and help reduce the intensity of hot flushes. Help improve cardiac function, muscle strength and range of motion. Reduce the risk of a thrombotic event.

Exercise and a healthy lifestyle including a healthy balanced diet and a healthy body weight all go hand in hand. Smoking, drinking and obesity can significantly increase your risk of developing cancer and and having a cancer recurrence. Obesity and a body mass index of over 25 can significantly increase your risk of endocrine/hormonal breast cancer. Fat causes an increase in estrogen production which can fuel estrogen positive breast cancer.

Most people find starting and sticking to an exercise program extremely daunting. I think the secret is to find an exercise you really enjoy and can cope with. Not everyone wants to run the Comrades Marathon. Just walking has huge benefits. The benefits of exercise are endless and can most certainly improve your quality of life.

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