Friday, June 7, 2013

Guest Post: Staying Physically Active While Undergoing Cancer Treatments

I have another guest post for you guys today! Melanie contacted me about writing a guest post based on the research she has done about exercise during cancer treatments (or any other chronic/terminal illness). Since I have little experience with this topic, I jumped on the opportunity!  I wanted to share this on Sunday, June 2, which Melanie informed me was National Cancer Survival Day, but Sunday is a slow day around the blog, and I wanted to make sure that this post reached a larger audience because I think it can be beneficial to a number of us, even if we are not personally fighting cancer. Here is what Melanie has provided for us today!


Activities that Fight Cancer-Related Fatigue

Fatigue is a common complaint of cancer patients. Cancer symptoms are bad enough, but aggressive treatments can wipe you out physically and emotionally. The latest studies suggest exercise as a way to fight fatigue.

It may seem counterintuitive, but researchers say that exercise reduces fatigue. You may think a workout will wear you out when you already feel extremely tired. However, studies show that exercise increases energy levels, especially in sedentary people. It also helps you sleep better, so you get more rest too.

What are your best exercise choices? That depends on factors like your cancer type, treatment method and recovery stage. Your fitness level, overall health and personal preferences also play a role in determining a workout. Most experts agree that aerobic activities provide the most benefits.

Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. Some exercises are better than others for your situation. Ask your doctor, physical therapist or personal trainer for recommendations. They are likely to suggest the following activities.


If you are in treatment for a serious or advanced cancer, light exercise can build up your strength. According to WebMD Medical Reference, walking is one of the best exercises because anyone can do it, a little at a time. Walking is a relatively simple activity that can be done virtually anywhere. It may seem as if you aren’t doing much to consider it as exercise, but even a short walk to the end of your driveway is a good start.

The benefits of walking are well documented: better muscle strength, stamina and endurance; stronger bones and less bone loss; and reduced fatigue from chemotherapy and other treatments. Whether you are fighting operable breast cancer, advanced mesothelioma or another disease, walking is simply good for you.

Water Aerobics

For a moderate form of exercise, give water aerobics a try. This activity can improve your weight, strength, flexibility and circulation as well as your heart, bone and joint health. Due to the fact that you feel 90% lighter in the water, water aerobics are considered as a low-impact exercise. Underwater training provides a cushion for comfort and a measure of resistance to build your strength. As a result, there is less placed on the joints, which makes this an ideal exercise activity for those with joint complications.


Running is a more vigorous activity that can improve your overall fitness. It is one of the most popular forms of aerobic exercise. Because it requires a lot of energy and continual movement, fitness experts recommend it for those in the late recovery stages.  

According to the American Cancer Society, aerobics are often prescribed for cancer-related fatigue. During chemotherapy and radiation therapy, nearly 70 percent of cancer patients have fatigue. It makes your body and brain feel tired, and rest will not improve it. Exercise changes your body composition and chemistry so you can fight the tiredness.  

If you can manage it, try to exercise 30 minutes on five days a week. This is the recommended level of physical activity for cancer patients and other adults. You can break down workouts into ten or fifteen-minute sessions if necessary. Never take on more than you can handle, however, and stop exercising if you experience pain or breathing problems. As always, remember that the healing process is exactly what it is, a process. Take everything gradually and adjust accordingly in your fight against cancer.


Melanie is currently a Master's student with a passion that stems from her grandmother's cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness.  To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.

If you are interested in writing a guest post for the readers of Undercover Diva: A Sitcom, please contact me at any of the options listed under the "Contact Me" tab.