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Exercise and diet for the person living with cancer

Exercise and diet are two essential components for a positive outcome for anyone who is going through cancer treatment and while recovering from cancer.

The Importance Of A Proper Exercise Regime

Fatigue is often experienced from the various types of cancer treatment, irrespective of whether it is surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy or a combination of these. Clients should be encouraged to exercise – even if this is a simple, leisurely walk. It may seem like an extreme effort to have to get moving, but most people will feel better after some form of exercise. So many people find it hard to visualise that exercise can be of benefit, and most see this as extremely hard work at a fast pace. People need to modify all exercise programs according to their energy level and how they are feeling. But to not exercise is worse for the patient, so limited, balanced exercise is important. Sleep can be evasive due to emotional issues in dealing with the disease, the treatment and outcome, or from medications, but by exercising daily, the patient will more than likely find that they are sleeping better than if they do not exercise at all.

Another form of exercise which is very helpful is gentle yoga or pilates. Gentle stretching and movements allow the lymphatic system to be stimulated. No extreme stretches or positions are used, and mild exercise can also help stimulate the lymphatic system which functions as part of the body’s immune system. Any exercise needs to be done in a stable environment so the patient stays balanced and to lessen the risk of fractures. 

The Impact Of A Healthy Diet

Linking food and good nutrition to overall health and appearance is important to most people today. It seems that everyone, from very young to mature, is very much aware of his or her appearance, even when not well. Diet during cancer treatment is very important, and should be ideally handled by a nutritionist who has experience in working with cancer. The body can become nutrient deficient when people lose their appetite, so it is important for good, nutritious foods to be eaten. The concern that arises for people that are immune suppressed can be the presence of bacteria found on fresh fruit and vegetables, so to circumvent that, the vegetables and fruit can be peeled.

The client’s medical team does need to be aware of any food intake and supplemental intake during treatment, just to ensure that any selected foods and supplements are not causing contraindications to any medications. One very helpful food type that can be beneficial during cancer treatment are probiotics, and an easy-to-make option can be made for use in the spa in the form of a ‘ginger bug’ (fermented ginger, sugar and water mix). A small amount of this fermented mix can be mixed into water or other juice daily. Ginger can also help with nausea and vomiting.

Other ingredients can be used in teas served in the spa such as green tea, and turmeric. Turmeric tea contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents, while green tea has great beneficial antioxidant benefits. However, as mentioned before, these ingredients need to be checked to ensure no conflict with medications. Medications and side effects from the disease can cause possible dehydration of the body and more specifically the skin. Drinking of water is necessary to ensure enzymatic functions are occurring in the body.

Ultimately the combination of exercise and diet can contribute to a positive outcome, and an improvement to quality of life.

Editor’s note: Spas can play an important role in the well-being of people with cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses. Spa Inc. welcomes expert columnist Morag Currin who will share information and tips for providing safe, positive spa experiences. In this first column, the opportunities that exercise and diet offer people with cancer are explored.

Morag Currin

The company owner and educational professional of Oncology Training International (OTI) whose innovative concepts were designed to provide more advanced comforting modalities of esthetic treatments and care for patients undergoing cancer treatments.

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