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Designed for both women and men, our cancer fitness program focuses on those in treatment as well as cancer survivors. Whether you have been active in the past or are just beginning, physical activity can help you feel better in many ways. Our cancer fitness program is safe and it is tailored especially for you. Medical studies show that a fitness program helps cancer survivors feel better, lead healthier lives and reduces the risk of recurrence. Classes start at 3pm on Fridays for 60 minutes.
SLOW … STEADY … SAFE … STRONG
contact : SHARON HARVEY CANCER EXERCISE THERAPIST
CANCER RECOVERY THROUGH EXERCISE
Always get your doctor’s permission before you exercise following cancer treatment.
Cancer Exercise Therapy
What is the role of exercise for cancer patients? • The goal of exercise for cancer rehabilitation is to improve quality of daily living. Treatments and surgical procedures are known to have negative effects on the body – fatigue, lethargy, loss of appetite. For instance, this may lead to a loss in muscle mass, which then causes overall weakness. Participation in physical activity before and after treatments is highly encouraged because of the positive effects it has on one’s physical (i.e. prevent loss in muscle mass) and psychological well-being (i.e. feel happier). Exercise helps by “minimizing toxic treatment effects” and promoting a faster recovery, which then allows one to return to their normal daily activities sooner.
• Furthermore, cancer is often accompanied by other diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, and cardiopulmonary disease when one is diagnosed with one or more of these, exercise is necessary to combat the negative effects of these diseases to one’s health.
• Exercise for cancer patients need not be overly exhaustive, but still be moderately intense This allows the body to physiologically adapt, thus improving strength and endurance to do daily living activities. Physical activities that are too easy to do will not promote cardiovascular, pulmonary and muscular adaptations in the body. Thus, even after weeks of doing such activities, these will not make one feel any better. • Staying sedentary will lead to muscle atrophy and excessive loss or gain of weight, thus enhance the feeling of fatigue.
When is it safe to exercise? • Exercise is safe to perform before and after treatments • Participating in exercise/physical activity prior to operation may also have positivephysiological effects on the body. Why do cancer patients feel tired/fatigue after treatment? • Treatments may impair blood flow because it can cause either blood vessel dilation or constriction. Abnormal vasodilation may occur because treatments may damage the smooth muscle on the vessel wall1. This may lead to pooling of blood in arms and legs, which may cause light-headedness and balance impairments, or overheating and the feeling of exhaustion. Vasoconstriction (i.e. when chemotherapy drug) fluorouracil is used) causes an increase in blood pressure, which may cause headaches. • Red blood cells (RBC) transport oxygen to working muscles. Treatments may decline RBC count. Treatments may decrease the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the muscles, which may cause early fatigue and a decline in physical performance. • Treatments (i.e. chemotherapy and radiation) may also weaken the pulmonary system. • Muscle wasting may occur.
What are the benefits of exercise? • Reduces fatigue • Reduces depression • Improves functional capacity (ability to do normal daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, etc.) • Improves heart and blood vessel function, thus improving blood flow. This improves the delivery of oxygen to working tissues. • Controls weight. Some cancer patients lose a lot weight while others gain. Specific exercise programs will help in achieving the cancer patient’s desired weight. • Reduces the risk of death from other co morbidities associated with cancer. • Ultimately allows one to recover faster from the negative effects of treatment. Will the positive effects of exercise be immediately felt? • No, the positive effects of exercise may not be felt on the first day of engaging in physical activity. The body needs time to adapt. One may feel tired after the first day of exercise because the body is not used to activity at a higher intensity. Continuing physical activity (e.g. 3-4x per week) will tell the body that it needs to adapt by increasing blood flow to working tissues and recruiting more muscle fibers. After a few weeks, the body will have adjusted to the intensity of one’s exercise/physical activity, thus improving heart and lung function, and increasing muscle tone(prevent atrophy). At this point, the positive effects of exercise may be felt – that is feeling less fatigue and having more energy throughout the day. • Once the body starts adapting to the exercise load one normally does, the positive effects of exercise (e.g. weight loss, weight gain) may no longer be felt. In order to continue to feel the beneficial effects of exercise, one must continually progress the exercise program/ physical activity by increasing duration and/or intensity. Cancer patients may require a longer time to progress exercise load than normal healthy people.
What types of exercises can you do? • Choosing the right exercise / physical activity depends on the strengths and weaknesses of the cancer patient. For example, if the disease restricts leg movement, then one may participate in exercise programs that utilize the upper body. If the disease and other co-morbidities cause back pain, then perform exercises that does not strain the back. Here are some exercises/physical activities that you can do: o Aerobic exercise – walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, elliptical, etc. o Functional exercise – chair rises, balance exercises, squat and reach exercises, etc. o Resistance exercise – thera-band exercises, dumbbell exercises, machine weight exercises,body weight exercises, etc. o Flexibility and core exercise – Strength training, yoga, stretching exercises, etc. o Participate in a sport – tennis, baseball, golf, etc. How long and how intense should you exercise?
• Exercise intensity and duration depends on the strengths and weaknesses of the cancer patient as well. The key is that the exercise/physical activity must not be too easy nor too hard, not too long but not short either. Ideally, cancer patients are recommended to exercise at a moderate intensity (e.g. 40-<60% of heart rate reserve; see figure) for 20-60 minutes. Duration and intensity highly depends on the exercise capacity of the patient prior to treatment. Keep in mind that exercising for a long period of time may lead to overheating and exhaustion. For resistance and functional exercises, typically 1-3 sets of 8-15 repetitions using a light to moderate weight is performed2. To improve flexibility, static stretches for 10-30 seconds is recommended. Fun exercise facts
• Step count recommendation per day: 10,000. • Functional exercises /physical activities such as lifting grocery bags, doing yard work, etc. counts. As long as you feel that what you are doing is moderately intense for approximately 30 min per day, then that counts as exercise. • Any form of physical activity is better than no activity at all