Cancer Answers -- John Malinowski

QUESTION: How can I start the new year off right?

Good news! Your cancer-related symptoms can be reduced with physical activity.

Cancer treatment can come with some unwanted symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle wasting, decreased endurance, sleep disturbances, depression and anxiety. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your oncologist about adding physical activity to your regular routine.

Exercise has been proven to be safe for the majority of cancer patients, even while undergoing treatment. Several recent studies have demonstrated that even low-intensity exercise, such as walking, yoga, stretching and aquatic exercise, can reduce the severity of treatment-related symptoms even after only 12 days. Other studies have shown that any level of exercise, as opposed to no exercise, can reduce anxiety, depression and fatigue and improve overall well-being.

You don’t have to run a marathon every day or go to a gym for hours in order to decrease your treatment-related symptoms. Just getting up and being as active as possible can be enough to reduce the severity of fatigue you feel today. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, just as body at rest tends to stay at rest.

We all need to make the choice to get up and move. It can be something as small as getting a drink of water a few times a day or going out to check the mail. If you simply cannot make it out of the chair, you can still be physically active.

I would love the opportunity to show you how you can perform some exercises right from your chair. When we move our bodies through active ranges of motion in a slow, controlled manner, we are activating our muscles and nervous system, increasing our circulation and respiratory function, and lubricating our joints.

Likewise, when we are physically active, our body releases chemicals that have a positive effect on our mood. This initiates a positive effect on our mood and a positive spiral of behavior.

It all starts with taking that first step.

If you have questions about physical activity while you are in treatment, talk to your oncologist, radiation oncologist, oncology nurse or certified cancer exercise trainer.

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The Cancer Rehabilitation Program is a 12-week program that includes group, individual and aquatic exercise designed to help you meet your fitness goals and provide guidance and motivation. Each participant first meets one-on-one with mem a certified cancer exercise trainer, to create an individualized program. To schedule your assessment, call 346-3413.

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Have a question for Your Cancer Answers, a weekly column produced by Marian Regional Medical Center, Cancer Program? Email it to mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org.

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