How to Workout with Medical Issues… Cancer

Every person in the world knows of someone that has had cancer or presently has cancer; sadly it is becoming more prevalent within our society with 1/3 of our population having some type of cancer. Cancer very plainly is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells; and there are more than 100 different types of cancer. With more than eight million cancer survivors it is becoming increasingly important to create structured workout regimes for the rehabilitative and maintenance of this issue.

With the two major issues for current cancer patients being loss of body mass and daily functional status (including extreme fatigue and difficulty walking), it is important to start an exercise routine during and following cancer treatments.

The benefits of exercise for cancer treatment side effects:

  • Decreased sense of fatigue
  • Increase in body mass
  • Increased coordination
  • Increased muscular strength
  • Increased cardiovascular endurance
  • Increased quality of life
  • Prevention of future cancers

So what should a cancer survivor’s workout goals be?

  • Improve your overall functional status. Are your workouts making life seam easier, giving you more energy, distracting your mind?
  • Improve flexibility and mobility of joints. Keep you loose and limber, this may take some thought as to not cause pain while stretching but it can be done.
  • Increase circulation with active motion. Get that blood pumping in your entire body!
  • Increase ventilatory function. Try to create an exercise routine that gets you to work on systematic breathing.
  • Prevent blood clotting. Keep your blood healthy with movement.
  • Increase muscular strength and endurance. Work with weights and cardio equipment to your own submaximal effort.
  • Reduce bone loss. Add weight bearing exercises to your workout to strengthen your bones and joints.
  • Keep your metabolism up and keep your muscles. Working on keeping your muscles strong and toned will keep your strength as well as keep your metabolism elevated.
  • Listen to your body. You don’t want to over tax your body, look for signs of increased fatigue, dizziness, cramping during or following exercise and stop what you are doing.

What should a workout for a cancer survivor look like?

  • Frequency At least 3-5 times a wk
  • Intensity 60-80% heart rate max or RPE 11 to 14 (out of 20)
  • Type Large muscle groups, walking & cycling
  • Time 20-30 continuous min per session
  • Progression May be cyclical with periods of regression depending on treatments

For those with some medical issue, exercise really is the cure all. No matter what the medical issue, exercise has never been shown to have detrimental effect, but rather the opposite; it usually alleviates all of the negative side effects. What you have to understand is how to modify exercise for each issue that arises like stated above. If you have questions about how to exercise being a cancer survivor please feel free to contact Fitness director Jacob Galloway.

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