Exercise Tips to Help Fight Cancer Faitigue


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Nancy Campbell, MS, exercise physiologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, provides tips on how cancer patients can stay active to help lower stress, strengthen muscle mass, elevate mood and improve sleep patterns.

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Exercise Tips to Help Fight Cancer Faitigue

  1. 1. Nancy Campbell, MS Exercise physiologist Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  2. 2. Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most common complaints among cancer patients and survivors. • Typically occurs during treatment or in the first year after • Can last for long periods of time and doesn’t go away after sleep or rest.
  3. 3. Research shows that cancer patients who get regular exercise report feeling less tired. Physical activity can: • Lower stress • Strengthen muscle mass • Elevate mood • Improve sleep patterns Read more about research related to exercise and cancer: http://www.physther.org/content/84/8/736.full
  4. 4. Here are a few tips to help you start an exercise routine to address fatigue:
  5. 5. TIP: Choose an exercise you enjoy You’re more likely to stay active if you enjoy what you’re doing. Suggestions include: • Walking (preferred by many cancer patients) • Bicycling • Swimming • Running
  6. 6. c You may also benefit from mind and body exercises including: • Qigong – A form of traditional Chinese mind/body exercise and meditation that uses slow and precise body movements with controlled breathing and mental focusing to improve balance, flexibility, muscle strength and overall health. • Tai chi – A form of mind/body exercise and meditation that uses slow sets of body movements and controlled breathing. • Yoga – A system of practices used to balance the mind and body through exercise, meditation and control of breathing and emotions. These mind and body exercises are all available through Dana-Farber’s Zakim Center: http://www.dana-farber.org/Adult-Care/Treatment-and- Support/Patient-and-Family-Support/Zakim-Center-for-Integrative- Therapies.aspx
  7. 7. TIP: Check with your doctor Before you begin: • Make sure your exercise plan won’t interfere with your treatment or recovery • Ask your doctor about precautions you should take or activities to avoid
  8. 8. TIP: Start at a pace that matches your fitness level Ideally, you want to get at least 3-5 hours of moderate activity every week to reduce fatigue Work your way up: • Increase your activity level by 10 percent each week Example: Start with a 10-minute walk, then an 11-minute walk the following week, and work your way up. • Focus on incremental goals • Start with a light activity for short periods of time and build up to at least 5 hours of activity per week
  9. 9. TIP: Don’t overdo it If you find fatigue is becoming worse when you exercise, you’re probably exercising too hard. Other warning signs to watch for when exercising: • Extreme shortness of breath • Unusually fast heart rate • Dizziness
  10. 10. Remember: A little bit of exercise is better than nothing, even small steps can help. • If you’re not feeling well enough to exercise, even a short walk around the block can be helpful • Consider starting a stretching program to regain your range of motion The key is to stay active, even a little bit, to maintain mobility and flexibility.
  11. 11. For more information on exercise classes and consults for cancer patients and survivors, visit: http://www.dana- farber.org/exercise/ Read a January 2013 Insight blog post from Nancy Campbell, MS, for more information on the benefits of physical activity for cancer patients: http://blog.dana- farber.org/insight/2013/01/exercise-during-cancer-getting- started/ Nancy Campbell,MS