By Denise Walker

The benefits of exercise for the general population are well-publicized. But what if you’re a cancer patient?

Exercise has many of the same benefits for cancer survivors as it does for other adults. Exercise can improve mood, boost self-confidence and reduce fatigue. Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve your health and lower your risk for many cancers. And, for most cancers, exercise may lower your risk of recurrence if you are a cancer survivor.

Exercise helps reduce your chances for cancer by helping you lose fat and maintain a healthy weight. It also lowers your risk for chronic diseases and produces hormones that help reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

One of the things that’s not talked about as much is the risk of lymphedema. The condition is caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system, part of the immune and circulatory systems and causes swelling in the arms and legs. Lymphedema is most commonly caused by lymph node removal or damage due to cancer treatment. Excercise can help with this since maintaining a healthy body weight will help lower the risk of lymphedema.

Many cancer patients don’t know where to start with exercise. Typically an excercise plan would start with lypmh drainage excercises to get the lymphatic system flowing or if you’re not at risk for lymphedema just stretching. Cardio, along with strength training are very important as well. But these must be progressed very slowly. Obviously, all of this would have to have a doctor’s clearance to get started.

Locally, there are classes that are held to get cancer patients started with an exercise program. Cancer Services of Eastern NC and Vidant Wellness are good resources here. In December/January, as a Cancer Excercise Specialist, I plan to offer other services to the area as well! Stay tuned….

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