Exercising is among the most powerful tools to improve quality of life for people with cancer. It lessens fatigue, anxiety and gastrointestinal side effects, increases muscle strength and improves breathing.
All of these benefits are helpful to people coping with mesothelioma, a cancer that primarily affects the lining of the lungs. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. The vast majority of people who develop the cancer worked occupationally with asbestos for years.
Treatment for mesothelioma involves chemotherapy and radiation therapy, both of which cause fatigue that exercise can lessen. Some people with mesothelioma qualify for surgery, and these patients greatly benefit from physical therapy exercises to aid recovery. It doesn’t take intense or even moderate exercise to see benefits. Even low-intensity movement around the house can make someone with mesothelioma feel better. Consider the following exercises to get started.
Take a Walk
While walking may not seem like exercise, it is for those with cancer-related fatigue. The kind of fatigue caused by chemotherapy can really knock someone down for a day or longer. Simply walking to the mailbox might be all you can handle one day. Walking down the block might be easier the next day. Take it slow and at your own pace. Seniors who had a regular walking routine before cancer treatment can try their best to maintain their old routine. They shouldn’t overdo it, but keeping the body conditioned to regular movement will help with recovery.
Try Light Strength Training
Don’t think there’s any point to lifting 1 or 3-pound weights? Even light strength training will help you maintain appetite and weight. Keeping weight on throughout cancer treatment is associated with longer life expectancy.
Lifting canned goods or light books is an easy way to get started if you don’t have lightweight dumbbells at home. Bicep curls, lifting the weight above your shoulders or head and gentle squats are good exercises to strengthen muscles that support breathing.
Work with a Physical Therapist
Working with a physical therapist is one of the best steps a cancer patient can take to improve their physical well-being. By working with a physical therapist, patients can learn specific exercises that are uniquely tailored to their needs. Every person is different and that means not all exercises work the same for everyone. Some people need to strengthen their legs before they can strengthen their back muscles, while others have a need to focus on shoulder strength.Ultimately, people with mesothelioma should avoid inactivity. Gentle, low-intensity movement is all people with cancer need to get the benefits of exercise. Start with slow and easy exercise. When you feel stronger, you can increase activity incrementally to condition your body.
Author bio: Michelle Whitmer has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center since 2008. Focused on the benefits of integrative medicine for cancer patients, Michelle is a certified yoga instructor and graduated from Rollins College in Florida.
Carlin Longley is a Registered Nurse and entrepreneur who's passionate about helping others.