In recent times, the rapid increase in the number of cases of cancer worldwide has emerged as a major concern for the international community. According to a fact sheet published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2018, various types of cancer claimed a whopping 9.6 million lives worldwide. The fact that highlights the gravity of the situation is that, in 2018, cancer was the second leading cause for death worldwide and was responsible for one out of every six deaths.
Hand in hand with the growth of the number of cancer patients, the number of effective Cancer Treatment procedures and methods has also increased. Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy have now become commonplace in the Cancer Treatment scenario. With a couple of other practices, a practice that is gaining wide recognition and seeing a rise in popularity as a Cancer Treatment and cancer care procedure is regular exercise.
How can regular exercise help a cancer patient?
The rise in popularity of physical exercise as a cancer care method is in stark contrast with a piece of popular advice that was previously handed out to cancer patients by their doctors to rest and reduce physical activity. But, with multiple studies showing that exercising improves the physical condition of patients suffering from varied types of cancer at different stages, the relevance of exercise to the best Cancer Treatment could not be written off.
The benefits that regular exercise provides to the cancer patient is many-fold. Some of the most common benefits that can be obtained from regular exercise in the context of Cancer Treatment have been listed below.
- Reduces fatigue: Fatigue amongst the patients undergoing Cancer Treatment is one of the most common complaints that a cancer care provider encounters. Regular exercise can help in bringing down the Fatigue levels in patients by almost forty to fifty percent. This is because regular exercise enhances muscle strength, joint flexibility, and general conditioning, which are impaired due to some sorts of cancer treatments and therapies.
- Regular exercise reduces the risks of heart diseases amongst cancer patients.
- Indulging in regular physical exercise reduces the chances of osteoporosis.
- Long hours of complete immobility might lead to blood clots, which may prove to be painful in its advanced stages. Exercising facilitates proper blood flow all over the body and can be helpful to avoid clots.
- Physical exercise can also help improve the mental condition of a patient. It improves his/her self-esteem and keeps him/her from slipping into mental Depression. This facet is of utmost importance as most of the time, during therapy, the mental and emotional wellness for cancer is overlooked while combating the physical complexities.
Though exercises have become popular as a cancer care practice and way to combat Cancer Treatment side effects, there is no concrete evidence yet to prove that it can be used for preventive care.
What are the exercises that can be helpful?
A healthy before or after-treatment exercise program might consist of a variety of exercises. There are no hard and fast rules that regulate which activities would benefit. But, based on popular practice and the results of several studies and research works, it has been seen that a few classes of exercises, when included in the program, do a world of good to the condition of a cancer patient. Some of them have been listed below.
- Stretching Exercises
Patients receiving cancer treatments often have to remain inactive and immobile for lengthy periods of time. This immobility might give rise to blood clots as the blood flow in the body becomes restricted. Stretching exercises can help to regulate the blood and oxygen flow in the body and can loosen up muscles that get stiffened during therapies like Radiotherapy.
- Breathing exercises
Breathing is one of the common complexities that cancer patients face. Hence the best cancer hospitals and cancer care providers include breathing exercises into the wellness regime of a cancer patient. This class of exercises not only helps improve one's endurance but also keeps away Anxiety and Depression.
- Balancing Exercises
People undergoing Cancer Treatment often suffer from loss of balance, which may cause a severe injury. Balance exercises help the patient regain control over his muscles so that he can go about doing his daily chores without falling or losing balance.
Precautions that should be taken by a cancer patient while exercising
Today, exercises have become a mandatory feature in the patient care routine of most of the best cancer care providers. Though the exercises suggested by different hospitals might differ from one another, one thing that they all agree upon is the fact that proper precautions should be taken while exercising.
Some of the most common precautions that should be taken are listed below.
- A patient should always crosscheck with the doctor or the cancer care provider on whether or not it is okay to exercise.
- A patient should refrain from exercising if his/her red blood cell count is low.
- If a patient has a tendency to vomit or is suffering from diarrhea, it might take a toll on his/her body's sodium and potassium level. In such a case, it is best not to exercise.
With more research taking place on the relevance of exercising in cancer treatment, it is hoped that enough evidence can be gathered to list exercise as a preventive and a palliative care procedure.