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Exercise, Another Tool in Your Fight: A Guest Post from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance’s David Haas

A huge welcome to those of you new to this blog. Check out the ‘About’ Page for my background and the ‘CML’ page for details on the cancer I fight. And please don’t drop in and run away! I’d love it if you said hi and told me a bit about you, either through a blog comment, on Twitter, Facebook, or by email.

Yesterday, my fabulously talented physical trainer friend posted a photo of a rather out-of-shape person attempting to jog.

The caption: It doesn’t matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping the people sitting on the couch.

So true. No matter what you do, its better than nothing.

I blogged yesterday about exercise and optimism, including my rebellious need to run up the stairs right before I’m scheduled for an echocardiogram.

There’s something so empowering about exercising, despite our limitations. It changes us, physically, mentally, and socially. It gives us resilience, confidence, and something like gumption. And though I no longer make it to the gym like I used to, I am a faithful Jillian Michaels and Insanity exerciser. I like daring myself to see how far I can challenge myself, without, of course, overdoing it.

Yes, in another life, with another body, I would be a woman’s moguls skier.

In this life, I’m merely a young mom fighting cancer.

But, you know, both give you endorphins.

But, enough from me. I refer you to David Haas, a cancer survivor and guest blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.(www.mesothelioma.com/blog). A Family Hospitality Coordinator and Awareness Program Advocate, David blogs about programs and campaigns underway at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, and works to build relationships with similar organizations. He is a passionate advocate for cancer patients and enjoys rock climbing, golf, racquetball, board games, Will Farrell movies, and, of course, writing.

Exercise: Another Tool In Your Fight

By David Haas

Whether you were currently diagnosed, are undergoing treatments or are in remission, the benefits of exercise are vast and well worth your time. The National Cancer Institute recently posted new guidelines for cancer patients and survivors noting the benefits and making recommendations (http://www.cancer.gov/ncicancerbulletin/062910/page5). Patients with common cancers as well as those with rarer types, such as certain carcinomas and mesothelioma, will all benefit from remaining active during their treatments.

Undergoing chemo and radiation is physically and emotionally draining. When we exercise, endorphins are released into our system. “Oh great, more drugs” you’re thinking, but relax! These are your body’s natural “feel good” chemicals your brain releases when you become physically active. Feeling better mentally can help you remain optimistic and get you through another round of chemo. These same endorphins will make it easier for you to get up in the morning and do it again, no matter how tired you are feeling. Along with feeling better, your body will remain strong and help you maintain muscle mass and tone so that it won’t be as hard to get back in shape once you finish your rounds of treatment.

OK, so you’re no longer going through treatment. You’re in remission and wondering what exercise will do for you. If your type of cancer required treatment that left you physically drained or under strict guidelines to take things easy, exercise will help restore your energy levels by rebuilding muscle, tone and strength. It’ll help you return to work and your normal activities faster. It’s also known to help reduce the risk of developing a different type of cancer. If these reasons aren’t enough, at a bare minimum, it will help you feel good about your appearance- something all of us deserve.

What kind of exercise should you do? ANYTHING! Get outside and go for a walk or a bike ride. You can also swim, hit the gym, weight train, do an exercise DVD, or just turn the music up and dance around your kitchen! The bottom line is it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as your heart rate is elevated and you continue the moves for at least 30 minutes on most days. Check with your doctor and make sure these types of activities will not interfere with your treatments, and get to it!

Cancer offers us little control. Exercise gives us a chance to take some back.

You can check out the rest of David’s blog here. Wishing you all an empowering and rebelliously optimistic day! – Lana

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