Lung Cancer and Fitness
Last updated: May 2023
Incorporating Movement into Your Life
Whether you were an athlete or couch potato prior to your diagnosis/surgery, you can still participate in exercise a few times a week. Of course, if it were sunny and warm everywhere right now, I would tell you get outside and walk to the end of your driveway. Or walk to the end of your street. But because it is freezing, and snowing, and raining, there are always alternatives. One of the best I have found is Planet Fitness.
The stories you hear and see about Planet Fitness are true. It is only $10 a month and you can go as often as you'd like. At your first visit, a trainer will walk you through each piece of equipment to show you what it does and what part of your body it works on. After that, you can become the next Mr./Mrs. Universe if you'd like to.
I started out only on the treadmill. My surgery was extremely difficult as was chemotherapy and I just didn't have it in me to do different types of equipment. My doctor told me the treadmill would help my fatigue. I looked at him like he was crazy but it was true. Walking on the treadmill for 30 to 45 minutes, three times a week, will do wonders for your stamina. It will help build you back slowly.
The Benefits of Exercise
Exercise not only helps fatigue and stamina, it also helps prevent loss of body function, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion.1 I personally experienced all of the above after my surgery. I was more afraid of what I had to do to get my strength back. I envisioned myself at the gym like the gym rats pumping iron. If you know me at all, that is just not going to happen. So, I plug my headphones into my phone and listen to my upbeat music while I walk on the treadmill.
I personally enjoy the treadmill more than outside because I can just close my eyes, jamming to my music, and walk away. My thoughts can take me just about anywhere.
The American Cancer Society also states that "exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, body composition, fatigue, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, happiness, and several quality of life factors in cancer survivors."1 A few years ago, the American College of Sports Medicine held an expert roundtable to develop guidelines and evaluate evidence about exercise for cancer survivors. The group found that "exercise is safe and offers myriad benefits for survivors including improvements in physical function, strength, fatigue, quality of life (QOL), and possibly recurrence and survival."2
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.
What healthy habits do you use to improve the quality of your life?