Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Preventing Cancer Complications with Exercise-- Guest Blogger David Haas

Today, I am very lucky to have a great guest blogger, David Haas.  Here's his post:

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Preventing Cancer Complications with Exercise

Physical fitness has always played a central role in a healthy lifestyle, and it has
increasingly been recognized as an important part of treatment for chronic disease.
Heart disease patients are routinely counseled to exercise under the care of fitness
experts, and osteoporosis patients have likewise found major benefits from
resistance training and aerobics. Just as exercises have to be modified for these
diseases, modifications can be used to ensure all cancer patients get enough
exercise to realize benefits.

The good news is that the majority of cancer patients will need no special
modifications, only a general precaution against over-exertion. Breast cancer
patients have successfully participated in outpatient workout programs, well-known
athletes have proven that even vigorous exercise can be safe and effective during
treatment. Unfortunately, it has also been shown through epidemiological studies
that cancer patients are less likely to engage in a regular workout program than the
general population. This is partly due to the debilitating effects of cancer fatigue.

Too Tired to Exercise

Fatigue often begins as a symptom of radiation treatment and chemotherapy, and it
can last as long as five years after treatment has successfully stopped cancer
growth. Some medications can help, but they may also cause damaging side effects.
Fatigue itself sets up a feedback loop, as more fatigue leads the patient to exercise
less and this in turn creates more fatigue.

Getting started with exercise can sometimes be difficult because of this feedback
loop. However, exercise has been shown in controlled studies to reduce fatigue and
give patients more energy. Whether the fight is against breast cancer or
mesothelioma cancer, physical activity is the best way to mitigate cancer fatigue.
Unlike medications, there are no side effects when routines are performed
responsibly, and the benefits of exercise only begin with reducing fatigue. Better
physical fitness is also an effective path for reducing other types of physical and
emotional stress.

Regaining Optimism

Beginning with the diagnosis, many patients feel the life has been sucked out of
them. Others may not experience high levels of depression or anxiety until the use of
body-altering surgeries or other treatments. Using quality of life indicators and
emotional disorder questionnaires, researchers have compared patients who
exercise regularly with those who do not. They have found and confirmed many
times over that exercise is an effective way of regaining hope and beating the
emotional stress of fighting cancer.

Benefits Beyond Treatment

For those patients who survive cancer, the exercise routine begun during treatment
should be continued. Besides offering protection against other types of chronic
disease, workouts will also prevent recurrence of most types. In addition,
researchers found that survivors who continue exercising experience a longer
lifespan and lower risk of death from any cause, not just from cancer.

Using the body to heal itself is not a new idea, but it is undergoing a renaissance in
cancer treatment programs. The benefits are too great to ignore. This safe and free
complimentary treatment is available to all who seek better health.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Training with Purpose?

On Friday, I had the very unfortunate luck of catching the Mongolian Death Flu from Hell that's been felling all my clients over the last several months.  It's been a long, long time since I've been sick like this (haven't left the house, or pretty much the bed/couch, since Friday evening), and it's been miserable.  What it has afforded me the time to do, however, besides catch up on pretty much every episode of "30 Rock" and "The Office" ever made, is spend a lot of time reading Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and whatnot about training (my favorite subject, and since I haven't had the energy to lift anything heavier than the 13lb. package of Einkorn flour that arrived today-- excited about that, but that's fodder for another blog-- I am living vicariously through my fitness friends).  
 
First draft:  How To Deadlift Triple Bodyweight.  Might need to scrap this particular plan.
 

A lot of what I read made me think about some of the comments people make about my own workouts.  For those of you who don't know, I like to post my workouts on Facebook fairly often.  Many people tell me it motivates them, and honestly, seeing the numbers up there motivates me, too.   Not uncommonly, someone will respond to my posting by asking me why I did that particular workout.  I usually have a long list of reasons, which almost always includes, "Because I like to."

Here's the thing-- I'm all for training with purpose.  I have goals.  My clients have goals.  We all need road maps to get there.  But somewhere along the line, the simple joy of movement seems to get lost in the details.  So, you know what?  Sometimes I'm going to try a challenge like this:  
 
 
 or do 1,500 one-handed swings in a row.  Sometimes I'm going to try a muscle-up or a flag.  Sometimes I'm going to play on the jungle gym or my ladders like an insane 12-year-old like this:
 
 
 
Does it make me better?  Stronger?  Faster?  Well, some of these things will make me improve at some things, and others will make me improve at other things.  Some will just burn some fun calories and work some muscles I'd forgotten existed for a while, and some will just feel good.  The caveat, of course, would be doing these things in the absence of good form and ending up in pain.  But as long as you're not hurting yourself, what's wrong with having fun with movement?

So while yes, training with purpose is important to do most of the time, not everything you do for fitness needs to have a goal, in my humble little long-haired opinion.  If you love it, why not do it? Beats the heck out of sitting on the couch, watching sitcoms.  Trust me.  I know.  :-/

Thoughts?  Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!