Physical Fitness Vitally Important for Cancer Patients

Physical Fitness Vitally Important for Cancer Patients


Physical Fitness Vitally Important for Cancer Patients

More and more scientific evidence is coming in that physical fitness can play a vital role in improving the quality of life of cancer patients. This is true for those who have just been diagnosed, are currently being treated, or are in remission. Physical fitness can be a tremendous help to cancer patients, even those with a very rare cancer like mesothelioma, in the areas of sleep quality, energy levels, immune system support, and mood.

The link between exercise and greater quality of life for those undergoing treatments "is incredibly strong" according to the National Cancer Institute's Dr. Rachel Ballard-Barbash.

Physical Fitness Increases Energy Levels

Many cancer patients have side effects from their medication, not to mention the cancer itself, can bring about an almost debilitating fatigue. It is extremely hard to live anything close to a normal life when you are tired all the time, particularly during the daytime. And since people who do not get enough sleep are often irritable, the effects are seen there as well.

How does being physically fit boost your energy levels?

Regular exercise, although it may seem like the last thing you want to do, is exactly what is needed for many cancer patients. The initial investment of energy pays off by raising your metabolism over time. Your metabolic rate determines how much and how fast your body burns off calories and fat to produce energy. A higher metabolic rate means you are burning more fuel for energy, losing fat, and experiencing higher energy levels.

Fitness Increases Sleep Quality

Getting a good workout will certainly tire you out, helping you fall asleep faster and get deeper, more restful sleep. If you are currently undergoing treatment for your cancer, your body urgently needs sleep in order to recover from the side effects of the treatment. Many cancer treatments are unable to target only the cancer, but affect healthy cells as well. Getting a good night's rest enables your healthy cells to recover and your immune system to fight the cancer. Ultimately, it is your body’s own immune system that will defeat the cancer.

Once you have gotten through the first few days of your new exercise routine, you will start seeing the payoff for the work you have put in. Getting better sleep means you will be more rested during the day, allowing you to get everyday things done that you were too tired to do before.

Immune System Support

The immune system is more effective and active when you exercise regularly. Regular exercise boosts the activity of natural killer T-cells in the body. These are the immune system cells that roam your bloodstream, looking for pathogens. When they identify an invader, they will try to kill it.

One side effect of cancer treatment is a lowered immune system response to infection. This can put you at risk for developing colds or the flu, a bacterial infection, or pneumonia. In effect, you would be now fighting a two-front war. Exercise gives you another weapon in your arsenal.

Caner is a disease that can impact your life; however, don’t let it take over. Fight back and get active through exercise, don’t let the cancer outrun you. Consult your doctor and find a workout regimen that best suits the needs of your and your cancer and get our there and get moving!


Contributing author David Haas is from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.  His bio and more information can be found at

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