Recently I came across an interesting article that caught my eye. Through a pilot study at Aintree University Hospital, Liverpool, it was found that through helping patients improve their physical fitness, they could manage treatments and recovery much better.
One elderly patient with a serious form of cancer has been inspired by his Doctors to get himself into better shape and he admits he's fitter than every before. He uses an exercise bike on which you can really work up a good sweat (you see, they do have their uses!).
The patients in this trial are being treated for "stage 3 rectal cancer" which is a severe form of bowel cancer. The treatment involves chemo and radio therapy before surgery. Of course this takes quite a toll on physical strength and well being. The treatment has a real effect on muscles which are inevitably weakened during this time and the exercise seems to be of real benefit. It's also helpful as there is a gap of several weeks between the chemo and radio therapy which is inevitably a time of anxiety for patients. Maintaining a good fitness regime will provide some focus during this time and build up a certain amount of resilience for the on-going treatment.
Naturally having a good base level of fitness will be helpful to anyone in this position because you're not starting from stretch and there is an argument to suggest exercise that keeps the body moving may prevent certain cancers in the first place.
This isn't new!
As I read the article I couldn't help but remember a guest blog post click here by David Haas in north America in which he also argues the case for maintaining fitness through treatment periods.
It's important to remember that aside from the physical benefits, there will be mental health benefits as well. Naturally a period of treatment for cancer is a difficult time for anyone and it is understandable when patients start to suffer from cancer and other serious illnesses. The natural reaction might be to with draw and be inactive. After all, people will be very understanding in these circumstances. Physical exercise, if it can be done, is likely to lift a patients mood.
But talk to your Doctor first
Now then let's get something straight here. I'm not suggesting anyone is reckless and goes from zero to 'whatever' and it would be better to talk to your Doctor before embarking on any change in lifestyle, even if it's a positive change. I'm not a Doctor or have any kind of medical expertise here. So please don't try and sue me for leading you astray!