Cancer Recovery – Should You Exercise After Cancer Surgery?

Cancer Recovery – Should You Exercise After Cancer Surgery?

The answer to this question is yes, no or know. Properly prescribed exercises can be very helpful for a cancer patient in many ways, but there are several exercises that can actually be detrimental to particular cancer patients. Knowing who to go to for guidance is the key to cancer wellness.

The majority of fitness experts have not been trained to work with various cancer survivors. Usually the fitness instructors mean well when prescribing exercises to their client, but without the proper training and knowledge the exercises they recommend could cause lymphedema, dehydration, more fatigue, infections, bone damage, nutritional deficiencies and more. Many cancer patients are prone to lymphedema. Stage 3 lymphedema, also called elephantiasis, is irreversible and the affected limb becomes hard and swollen. Most exercise classes and personal trainers have clients perform repetitive lifting and/or heavy weight training, both of these can cause lymphedema in various types of cancer patients.

Physical assessments before starting an exercise program are also very important. Limitations in flexibility should be tested with a goniometer. Flexibility issues should always be addressed before starting a strength program. Many breast cancer patients and others have range of motion issues and their exercise prescription should include flexibility exercises.

The treatment of diverse cancers and the way the body responds to the cancer and treatment varies greatly. An example of this would be if a client had stomach cancer and has early or late dumping syndrome. Late dumping syndrome clients should exercise right after they eat and the fitness instructor should look out for excessive sweating or tremors. If the client has early dumping syndrome they should eat several hours before exercising and fitness instructor should monitor heart for irregular heartbeats, and watch for dizziness and shortness of breath.

The proper exercise for cancer patients can actually help reduce pain and fatigue, increase range of motion and prevent lymphedema. Exercise can also increase treatment tolerance, prevent and/or manage: osteoporosis, diabetes and damage to the heart and lungs. The exercises prescribed should depend on the type of cancer, operation procedure, treatment, physician clearance and assessment performed by Cancer Exercise Specialist. Various forms of yoga, Pilates, weight training and cardiovascular exercises are often recommended for the client. Many beneficial exercises can be performed in bed or while sitting for the client who is not ready to stand.

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