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You Are Not Alone A Practical Guide for Maintaining Your Quality of Life While Living with Cancer You're Not Alone

Exercise - II. Symptoms and Strategies

Symptoms and Strategies

Sleep Disorders
Cognitive Functioning


It not only makes you feel better; it helps you fight better!
Many patients find that their level of physical activity diminishes due to their disease, its treatment, or some combination of both. This is particularly true for patients who are hospitalized or bedridden. It can also be an issue for all patients suffering from pain, lethargy, or depression. One of the best ways to combat these symptoms is to exercise. No matter how seemingly insignificant, move your body!

Exercise is essential to good health; it is even more important if you have cancer. The better the condition of your body, the better you will tolerate the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. For example, scientific research has documented that walking or bicycling three to five days per week produces the following benefits: decreased nausea, decreased fatigue, increased physical endurance, and improved quality of life. These benefits derive from increased muscle strength, improved gastrointestinal motility, and the increased production of endorphins, which elevate mood. Exercise has another plus: it relieves boredom. When performed with others, exercise can invariably produce laughter and feelings of camaraderie. It is important to remember that just as fatigue is cumulative, so is energy!

Starting a new exercise program or returning to physical activities that have been pleasurable in the past can have an immediate positive impact on your health. If you have specific concerns or questions about this, it may be helpful to consult a physical therapist. Physical therapists can design exercise programs to meet any stage of physical fitness. Therapists can teach exercises that can be performed in a bed or a chair, or semi-strenuous exercises for the partially ambulatory. There are also exercises for those who are ready for a full workout. In designing these programs, physical therapists consider each patient's cardiovascular endurance, joint flexibility, and muscular strength.

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