Back in 2007 when I started my own cancer journey, I was told to rest as much as I could, and exercise wasn’t mentioned until I went home from my transplant. How things have changed! We now rightly talk of both prehab and rehab. To ensure that physically you will be in the best place, before and after your procedure. Personally I found that my treatment made me so weak, I lost any appetite for exercise that I may have had. But now there are constant reminders wherever you look. There are also wonderful specialists with specific knowledge of exercise for people with long-term conditions.
One such person is Beth, who I was recommended to. Working for herself, doing online and in person sessions for people with complex health. She is incredibly knowledgeable and patient. I have so many people looking for services like this that Beth and I collaborate frequently when helping people. As exercise is becoming a lot more popular I asked Beth if she could share some tips with us, which she has done below.
“My name is Beth and I started Bounce Back Exercise to create more opportunities for people with cancer as well as other long term health conditions to experience the benefits of exercise.”
The benefits of exercise for people with cancer
Exercise has been found to be beneficial for cancer patients pre, post and during treatment. In addition to helping cancer patients cope with their diagnosis, research has also suggested that exercise could play a key role in preventing the risk of cancer progression and cancer recurrence.
Some of the benefits of exercise for people with cancer:
- Help people prepare people for treatment
- Helps manage treatment related side effects including fatigue, lymphedema, muscle wasting, osteoporosis
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Improves quality of life and prevents functional decline
- Improves recovery rate from cancer treatment
- Reduces length of time in hospital
- Helps individuals maintain a healthy weight
- Improves sleep
- Improves bone health
- Reduces the rate of disease progression
Although a lot remains to be learnt about the mechanisms involved in how physical activity influences cancer, it is clear that exercise is a safe and effective way of managing cancer related symptoms and side effects.
Which exercise is best?
Here are my top 5 exercise recommendations for people with cancer
1. Snack on exercise
Research has suggested that multiple short bouts of exercise may be just as beneficial as doing long periods of exercise. Starting small can help people manage energy levels and fatigue during treatment. It can also help create good exercise intentions and can actually result in increased exercise uptake.
2. Choose functional resistance exercises
Functional resistance training focuses on developing strength for movement patterns that are used in everyday life. This includes practicing sit to stands from a chair.
3. Challenge your balance
Balance exercises improve your ability to control and stabilise your body. They are particularly important for people going through cancer treatments which can negatively impact your balance.
4. Exercise outdoors
Exercising outdoors can provide a huge mental health boost. Exposure to sunlight naturally enhances vitamin D production and increases serotonin (the feel-good hormone).
Stretching is a crucial part of both performance and the recovery process. It involves deliberately flexing or stretching a muscle in or order to improve the muscle’s elasticity and achieve comfortable muscle tone. This can help aid recovery and reduce muscle soreness by increasing blood flow to the muscles. The benefits cancer patients stand to gain from participating in an exercise programme can be huge, making clinical exercise also an incredibly rewarding specialism.
What does Bounce Back Exercise do?
Bounce Back Exercise is an inclusive online exercise community for people who have been diagnosed with long term medical conditions including cancer and neurological diseases. Our weekly exercise classes are designed to address common disease symptoms and side effects, help people experience the physical and psychological benefits of exercise and promote lifelong engagement in physical activity. Our one-to-one programmes address individual goals, barriers, symptoms, and side effects so more people can feel confident in their ability to cope with their diagnosis. I believe that with exercise, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, however there is something for everyone. Bounce Back Exercise aims to help people find the exercise they enjoy as it is the only one they are ever going to stick with.
For more information on exercise for people with cancer visit www.bouncebackexercise.com and Twitter @BoxallBeth. You can also find an incredible series of FREE videos, for those that would like to try some things on their own. One example is below.