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After Cancer Diagnosis, Exercise is More Important Now Than Ever 

Exercise is good for us. We all know that’s true. And yet, why is it so darn difficult to get motivated to work out?

After losing two-thirds of my right lung, I get winded very easily when exercising. I cannot run. I like to imagine that, if only I had full lung capacity, I would be running 5Ks every week. Ha ha! But, to be honest, I really haven’t been a runner since I was in elementary school!

How can exercise help?

In truth, though, a lung cancer diagnosis can sap the enthusiasm out of even the most dedicated to fitness. How much more a slacker like me?

According to Carol Michaels, author of the book “Exercises for Cancer Survivors,” and the founder of Recovery Fitness, a nationally recognized exercise program designed to help cancer patients recover from surgery and treatments, exercise helps reduce treatment side effects such as fatigue, weakness, neuropathy, and depression.1

Michaels suggests cancer patients/survivors listen to their body and find the best time for them to exercise, especially if there is a time when their energy level is high. For example, if you usually have more energy in the morning, exercise then.

Listen to your body and exercise everyday

In the article, “The importance of exercise in lung cancer treatment,” published in the June 2016 journal of Translational Lung Cancer Research,2 Michaels encouraged patients to exercise every day.

“A good way to start to exercise is in small increments of ten minutes at a time depending on the person’s fatigue level,” the article states. “It is wise to progress slowly, set goals, and be mindful of the effect it can have on their body and it may take time to improve the individuals’ fitness level. At first, the patient might suffer from fatigue and low endurance and might only be able to exercise for a short period of time. Every day the sessions can be lengthened.”2

Not only does exercise help us live a better quality of life, research suggests it may also reduce our risk for cancer recurrence or a new primary cancer.3

Juanita Segura is an inspiration for us all. Not only did she work out while undergoing treatment for advanced lung cancer, she also opened her own Crossfit gym. You can see more of Juanita’s story here.

The time to start is now

If Juanita can do that, what the heck is my excuse? Sadly, I have none.

How about we all (yes, you reading this) make a good-faith effort to do some form of exercise — any form of exercise — at least once or twice a week? Maybe I can work up to doing something daily, as the cancer fitness experts suggest. When you exercise, tag me on social media or Juanita or your friend who is also trying to incorporate more fitness into their life. I will try to give periodic updates on my own activity.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The LungCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. “8 Steps to Starting Exercise After Cancer Treatment,” Cancer.net, Sept. 29, 2016, Accessed Nov. 27, 2018
  2. “The importance of exercise in lung cancer treatment,” June 2016, Translational Lung Cancer Research, Accessed Nov. 27, 2018
  3. “Increased physical activity associated with lower risk of 13 types of cancer,” National Institutes of Health, May 16, 2016, Accessed Nov. 27, 2018

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