Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. While chemotherapy can be effective in treating cancer, it can also cause a range of side effects, including fatigue, weakness, and a reduced ability to perform physical activities. Exercise during chemotherapy can help alleviate some of these side effects and improve overall physical function and quality of life for cancer patients.
There are several types of exercise that are recommended during chemotherapy. These include:
Aerobic exercise: Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is any type of exercise that raises your heart rate and gets you breathing harder. Aerobic exercise can help improve cardiovascular health, increase endurance, and reduce fatigue. Some examples of aerobic exercise include walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, and low-impact aerobics.
Resistance training: Resistance training, also known as strength training, involves using weights or resistance bands to build muscle strength and endurance. Resistance training can help improve muscle mass, bone density, and overall physical function. Some examples of resistance training exercises include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and doing bodyweight exercises like push-ups and squats.
Flexibility exercises: Flexibility exercises, also known as stretching, can help improve range of motion and reduce muscle stiffness and soreness. Some examples of flexibility exercises include yoga, Pilates, and stretching exercises.
Balance exercises: Balance exercises can help improve stability and reduce the risk of falls. Some examples of balance exercises include standing on one foot, walking heel-to-toe, and using a balance board.
When starting an exercise program during chemotherapy, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. It is also important to listen to your body and rest when needed. Working with a certified exercise professional, such as a physical therapist or a certified personal trainer, can help ensure that your exercise program is safe and effective.
In addition to the types of exercise listed above, there are some specific considerations to keep in mind when exercising during chemotherapy. These include:
Avoiding high-impact activities: High-impact activities, such as running or jumping, can be hard on the joints and may increase the risk of injury. Low-impact activities, such as walking or cycling, are a better choice for most cancer patients.
Staying hydrated: Chemotherapy can cause dehydration, so it is important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
Managing fatigue: Cancer-related fatigue is a common side effect of chemotherapy, and it can make exercise difficult. It may be helpful to schedule exercise for times when you feel more energized, such as in the morning or after a nap.
Monitoring for side effects: Chemotherapy can cause a range of side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. It is important to monitor for these side effects and adjust your exercise program as needed.
In summary, exercise during chemotherapy can help improve physical function and quality of life for cancer patients. Aerobic exercise, resistance training, flexibility exercises, and balance exercises are all recommended during chemotherapy, but it is important to start slowly and work with a certified exercise professional to ensure that your program is safe and effective. It is also important to keep specific considerations in mind, such as avoiding high-impact activities, staying hydrated, managing fatigue, and monitoring for side effects.