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Exercise and Lung Cancer


Exercise can be beneficial for lung cancer survivors by increasing strength and endurance and decreasing emotional issues. Physical activity may help the lung cancer survivor tolerate their cancer treatments and lower their fatigue level. The thought of exercise might be overwhelming to those with lung cancer, but a well-designed exercise program may help them feel better physically and mentally, and it may also decrease the risk of further disease. Numerous studies show that being physically active appears to improve survival and quality of life.

The side effects of lung cancer surgery and treatments are detrimental to the health and the quality of life of lung cancer patients. Patients are at increased risk of osteoporosis, cardio-vascular disease, and many other health problems. My work with this population, as well as published research, confirms that exercise helps to mitigate the side effects of cancer treatment and surgery.In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, cancer patients who exercise also report improved mental and emotional well-being.An exercise program must be gentle and progress slowly, especially if the patient had been sedentary prior to the diagnosis.

Many lung cancer patients experience shortness of breath and have difficulty breathing, which can keep patients from exercise and cause them to be sedentary. Thus, it is important to start their exercise program with breathing exercises. Restoring breathing will help with endurance and quality of life and will enable lung cancer patients to more easily accomplish their activities of daily living. There is an emotional toll that cancer survivors face in addition to the physical one. A cancer diagnosis can cause depression, anger, anxiety, fear and stress. Proper breathing techniques and stretching can improve the psychological recovery. Additionally, patients with shortness of breath and limited breathing capacity due to their cancer should perform upper body stretching exercises daily to increase lung capacity. A stretching program will restore mobility in the chest and back that allows for freer movement of the lungs and diaphragm. Stretching each part of the body will help to keep the chest muscles lose and encourage deep breathing. An additional benefit of light stretching is that it also improves a patient’s range of motion and decreases body stiffness. Stretching can also help improve patient’s posture. Sitting down all day at a desk or driving can cause the shoulders to round forward and kyphosis, which can decrease lung capacity. It will help the patient to manage the stress and anxiety of the disease and break down residual scar tissue.Strength training can also help patients improve balance, posture, and increase bone strength.

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