The Value of Exercise During Radiation
During radiation therapy exercise is highly recommended. It reduces the side effects of radiation, and fights the fatigue survivors experience. Aerobic exercise maintains red blood cells, and counteracts depression.
Reduces the side effects of radiation. Walking 30 minutes, preferably twice a day, will improve your breathing and heart rate. Your blood will better circulate, reducing the risk for the formation of clots, and therefore reducing the risk for strokes. Your overall emotional and physical well-being will be enhanced.
Exercise fights fatigue. Radiation is notorious for causing fatigue. There is a vicious cycle involved with fatigue. You feel fatigued, so you lie down, but lying down increases the sense of fatigue. It is counter-intuitive to make yourself exercise, yet this is just what the doctor ordered. The increased cardiovascular activity helps to move the toxins out of the body, and enhances overall emotional and physical well-being.
Maintains red blood cell levels through aerobic exercise. Radiation reduces the level of red blood cells causing anemia. The red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body’s tissues. Exercising during radiation therapy helps to keep the red blood count up.
Aerobic exercise fights nausea and weakness. The circulating oxygen pumped by the increased heart rate fights nausea and muscle weakness. Aerobic activity will be found in walking, cycling, running, swimming, basketball, soccer, and many other sports.
Exercise counteracts depression. Depression is part of any chronic illness, cancer, no exception. The depression is caused by chemical changes in the brain. Taking a brisk 30 minute walk a day or a run 3 times a week is as effective as taking an antidepressant pill.
Helps maintain stamina. One study reports that survivors who performed the exercise regime of walking and using resistance bands maintained their stamina and increased their aerobic capacity. The control group who did not have an exercise program did not maintain their stamina and their aerobic capacity decreased.
Older people benefit greatly from exercise. Elders become debilitated, (lose physical strength or ability), quickly. The increased debilitation rate increases elders mortality rate. The good news is that elderly people benefit from exercise programs.
Just starting out? It is important to get your doctors recommendations. Start slowly and have a physical therapist work with you. Ask your doctor for and order for physical therapy. The therapist will evaluate strengths and weaknesses and will work long side you in a program that fits your situation.
Exercise: you cannot afford not to do it, or if you don’t do it, now is the right time to begin.