Why You Should Take up Running after a Cancer Diagnosis
A diagnosis of cancer, mesothelioma, lung cancer, breast cancer, or any type, is devastating. It forces you to take stock of your life and to make some very important decisions. While you may be forced to think about treatments and whether or not you will survive, there is one choice that is easy to make: the choice to stay or get active. Recent research is proving that physical activity, including running, is beneficial for cancer patients.
The Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients
Conventional medical wisdom long told patients living with cancer to take it easy, to rest and not to get active. That advice is changing. Research is showing that just as exercise has benefits for healthy people, it also provides benefits for people with cancer. There may be times for rest, and you may not push yourself as hard as you used to, but living with cancer does not mean you cannot exercise, or even run.
Physical activity actually boosted energy in patients with cancer in a study that compared patients that exercised with those that did not. Fatigue is a common complaint of people living with cancer and going through chemotherapy, but exercise can fight it. Activities like running can also help improve overall health and outcomes. Running helps maintain fitness in cancer patients, which in turn helps improve tolerance and response to treatments.
Exercise has even been proven to reduce deaths among cancer patients and to extend life expectancy. In a study that compared patients working out a few hours a week to sedentary patients, those who were active were much less likely to die. They were also less likely to have a recurrence of cancer after remission from treatment.
Another less tangible benefit of running for cancer patients is improved quality of life. Although not easy to measure, patients do report enjoying life more when physically active. Being in better physical shape is part of this, but there is also an emotional or mental aspect. Running can give you a focus and a distraction from cancer, the weight hanging over your head.
Personal Stories of Running with Cancer
A quick online search will turn up numerous inspirational stories of people running through cancer or running through chemotherapy. These stores can inspire you to either keep running or start running in spite of a cancer diagnosis. You are not the only one to do it; others have been there before you and have benefitted from it. There are stories of people who ran to make chemotherapy more tolerable, to recover from surgery, and to be distracted from living with late-stage cancers.
Before you try running while living with cancer, be sure to talk about it with your medical team. Your doctors can give you important pointers, such as when to know if you are pushing your body too far and when you can go ahead and run. The benefits of maintaining some level of activity and fitness are huge. If you can stand to run, go for it, and enjoy life in spite of cancer.
Author: V. Anderson, mesothelioma