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Exercise While Sick

Posted 9/14/2016

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  This may seem to be an even more diabolical theme: not just exercise may reduce recurrence risk, but keep up that exercise even while you are in treatment or feeling ill. Full disclosure(s): When I had the first breast caner in 1993, I was a daily runner. I kept it up in the beginning, but soon found that the combination of chemo concurrent with radiation was too much. Not only did I feel awful, but my breast was really sore, and the bouncing hurt. In 2005 when the second breast cancer struck, I was a daily gym person. The reason for my commitment was really social; the same group of women were there every morning at 6:00 AM, and the social support was terrific. I kept going, almost every day, soon wearing a bandanna over my bald head. Even though there were plenty of days when I didn't do much, I depended on their friendship and humor.

  There was a study some years ago that I often quote to my patients. People on chemo, feeling chemo-ill, were divided into three groups. One was told to take a half hour nap when tired; one was told to have a cup of tea or coffee; one was told to take a 15 minute walk. The walkers fared best. My interpretation of this is to rely on the old advice of "Move the body" when feeling sick or depressed or scared. Just move.

  The Wall Street Journal takes it to more thoughtful levels:

Tips for Exercising While Sick
When done right, working out while undergoing treatment for a variety of diseases
including cancer can help recovery

by Jen Murphy

We’re often told to rest when we’re sick. But studies have shown that
regular exercise can actually be beneficial for people living with many
diseases, including cancer.
“Exercise offers the cancer survivor a significant opportunity to be a
key player in their healing team,” says Linda Gottlieb, research
associate at the Yale School of Public Health and an American College
of Sports Medicine-certified cancer exercise trainer based in Milford,
Conn. “Exercise has also been proven to help decrease the chance of
recurrence, along with improving quality of life.”
The ACME’s exercise guidelines for cancer survivors suggest avoiding
inactivity and aiming for 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic
exercise and two to three days a week of strength training.


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