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Improving Life During and After Cancer With Running

June 13, 2012

By David Haas

A diagnosis of mesothelioma, breast cancer or any other form of cancer is always frightening. The treatments can seem scary, and the worries that arise due to the treatment options can make the treatment even harder. Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer of any type should consider adding running to their daily routine.

Running and Fitness

Physical fitness is part of maintaining a healthy body, even during cancer treatments. According to the National Cancer Institute, adults should strive to obtain around 30 minutes of exercise five days a week (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/physical activity). This is the minimum requirement for adults with or without cancer, because it is an important part of maintaining good health.

Physical activity is variable for a wide range of cancer patients

Among the type of exercises that are often suggested is running. Unlike other forms of exercise, running does not require any special equipment, skills or training to complete. Running is relatively easy on the body when compared to options like weight lifting or high-impact sports. It is also a form of cardiovascular exercise that can help maintain a lower body weight.

According to The New York Times, researchers often suggest starting with walking, which is possible for almost any individual at any fitness level and who is fighting most forms of cancer (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/26/running-to-reclaim-your-body-from-cancer/). Walking can gradually build up to running as fitness levels improve and the muscular strength is able to withstand higher intensity workouts.

Benefits of Running

Understanding the benefits of running is a key part of becoming motivated to conquer the initial challenge of starting a new fitness routine during exhausting treatments. Running is a form of physical fitness that is primarily cardiovascular in nature; but by running up and down hills, stairs or similar terrains, it is possible to also build muscle.

According to the National Cancer Institute, moderate exercise like running and walking for half an hour on most days of the week is shown to improve the quality of life of cancer patients. Depending on the type of cancer, the treatments and the complications involved, particular areas of life that are improved can vary. Regardless of the particulars, the general quality of life does improve when running is added to a daily routine.

Beyond basic quality of life, cancer patients who are undergoing treatments will notice improved energy levels and reduced fatigue. The National Cancer Institute suggests that moderate exercise can improve energy levels during cancer treatments.

Mood swings are often part of the cancer treatment process, but adding regular exercise can also help improve that situation. The psychological benefits of exercise are particularly pronounced with cancer patients who are dealing with emotional turmoil, painful treatments and discomfort. The endorphins produced by physical activity will result in a better mood.

Improvements to Survival Rates

The basic benefits of improved quality of life, higher energy level and greatly improved mental health are not the only changes that occur when running while fighting cancer. Cancer patients and cancer survivors have additional benefits that relate to high physical activity levels.

While running is not a cure for cancer, research has shown a positive correlation between exercise and survivorship. According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer patients who run or exercise moderately throughout the week will have higher survival rates than those who do not run during treatment. The National Cancer Institute also points out that cancer survivors will see lower rates of recurrence after treatment when exercise is part of the regular routine. If cancer remains in remission, the survivor has a chance of living for many more years – an obvious advantage.

About David Haas

David Haas is a cancer support group and awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In addition to researching the many valuable programs available to their Website’s visitors and creating relationships with similar organizations, David often blogs about programs and campaigns under way at the Alliance, as well as creative fitness ideas for those dealing with cancer.


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One Response to Improving Life During and After Cancer With Running

  1. judy on February 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Great information. I have stage iv breast cancer mets to bone and have been running almost 2 years. I believe that the running is one of the main reasons I am still experiencing good health and no pain at all. I have lots of energy and this is my first time running!! Thanks for the information!!!

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