Author bio: Kaitlyn Teabo is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in cancer research and new scientific technology to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.
Living with Cancer: The Benefits of Yoga and Fitness
The word yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated. We can think of the union occurring between the mind, body and spirit. Yoga uses a combination of physical poses, breathing techniques, meditation and philosophy to invoke peace in its practitioners. Among the many types of alternative therapies available, it is one of the more widely used.
For those living with cancer, yoga is a great way to stay fit and healthy without over exerting oneself. Following a cancer diagnosis and prognosis, there are a lot of questions, confusion and many different emotions that may arise. Yoga can help clear the mind and pave the way to overcome the difficulties associated with a cancer diagnosis.
A major benefit of yoga is that it increases physical health, which is vital when your body is dealing with cancer. Yoga can help alleviate pain associated with chemotherapy, bed rest or symptoms of cancer before treatment. It may help people with cancer that have difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep, and in a few studies, yoga was associated with a significant decrease in fatigue related to cancer and cancer treatments. It can also help lower blood pressure and increase circulation.
In addition to physical benefits, yoga enhances emotional health. The breathing techniques involved in yoga promote a decrease in anxiety and stress. In a few small studies, yoga lowered blood cortisol levels in patients with breast cancer. Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted during stress and may play a role in the progression of cancer. Many patients have also found deeper meaning in their cancer experience by taking regular yoga classes.
Yoga is not the only type of physical activity that can benefit cancer patients, there’s abundant evidence that exercise in general and eating right can help prevent people from getting cancer. The latest information shows that exercise for cancer patients can also keep cancer from recurring. Exercise can increase muscle strength, improves your mood, boosts self-confidence, offers fun, relieves stress and reduces fatigue.
A British cancer charity examined 60 scientific studies and surveyed over 400 health professionals on the topic of cancer and physical fitness. The report found that with exercise, breast cancer patients had a reduced risk of recurrence or dying by nearly 40 percent. Prostate cancer patients saw a 30 percent reduction in fatalities.
Although yoga and fitness cannot cure cancer, it helps patients cope with the number of difficulties associated with a cancer diagnosis. Many patients say exercising gives them the strength to persevere.
Hoffman, Matthew. Exercise for Cancer Patients: Fitness After Treatment. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/cancer/features/exercise-cancer-patients
Eldridge, Lynne. (2012, Aug. 29). Yoga for Cancer Patients. Retrieved from http://yoga.about.com/od/beginningyoga/a/whatisyoga.htm
Samra, David. Yoga and Fitness Benefits for Cancer Patients. Retrieved from http://www.fitbodynetwork.com/yoga-and-fitness-benefits-for-cancer-patients/