The benefits of regular exercise.
There have been animal studies that have supported the idea that regular daily exercise can reduce the incidence of cancer and indeed that when fatigued muscle tissue was injected into mice with cancer their tumours shrunk. This may be due to the appropriate channelling of stress. It seems that as well as channelling the physiological affects of stress, vigorous exercise tends to stimulate the immune system thus boosting the body’s natural defences to fight cancer.
Exercise also can help us psychologically and several studies have shown that people on regular walking and jogging programmes tend to be more flexible in their beliefs and thinking, have an increased sense of self-sufficiency, a strengthened self-concept, improved self-acceptance and less tendency to blame others and importantly less depression.
Regular exercise can contribute to other positive changes like a feeling of being in charge of your life, and paying attention to your body’s needs. “The feeling of vitality and health that you get from regular exercise helps you see you body as a friend, a source of pleasure, something deserving of your care and attention. Asserting your needs through a program of regular exercise is away of saying that you are important” (see Getting Well Again)
Some people prescribe one hour three times weekly of exercise, while others suggest that we make exercise part of a daily routine. Preferably a mixture of walking and jogging but any exercise that makes you feel good and that you enjoy and can easily keep up does the trick. I like to swim but was advised against it due to increased risk of infections during chemotherapy so I mostly walked and also went horse riding (one of my passions in life!) once or twice a week and occasionally played badminton. I always feel better when I have had some exercise and found it hard for a few days after chemotherapy when I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to exercise.
Mental Imagery - Remarkably even when we can’t physically exercise because we’re too ill or recovering from an operation simply imagining that we are exercising can help. Our bodies will still release some of the good feel hormones and our muscles may still get some stimulation.
Safety in exercise - Its best to check with your doctor before beginning new exercise regimes. According to the Simontons “exercise is safe so long as you are able to maintain a conversation, even if somewhat haltingly. while exercising.”