The Role of Exercise in Fighting Fatigue continued...
Regular, moderate exercise can decrease these feelings, help you stay active, and increase your energy. Even during cancer therapy, it often is possible to continue exercising.
Exercising helps cancer patients better tolerate treatments, and their health outcomes are better. Here are exercise guidelines:
- Every patient should consult with his or her health care provider before beginning an exercise program.
- A good exercise program starts slowly, allowing your body time to adjust.
- Keep a regular exercise schedule if possible. Exercising for 30 minutes three times a week is best.
- The right kind of exercise never makes you feel sore, stiff, or exhausted. If you experience soreness, stiffness, exhaustion, or feel out of breath as a result of your exercise, you are overdoing it.
- Most exercises are safe, as long as you exercise with caution and you don't overdo it. The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling, and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury and benefit your entire body.
Cancer and Stress Management
Managing stress can play an important role in combating cancer and fatigue. The following are some suggestions to manage stress:
Adjust your expectations. For example, if you have a list of ten things you want to accomplish today, pare it down to two and leave the rest for other days. A sense of accomplishment goes a long way to reducing stress.
Help others understand and support you. Family and friends can be helpful if they can "put themselves in your shoes" and understand what fatigue means to you. Cancer support groups can be a source of support as well. Other people with cancer understand what you are going through.
Relaxation techniques, such as audiotapes that teach deep breathing or visualization, can help reduce stress.
Activities that divert your attention away from fatigue can also be helpful. For example, activities such as knitting, reading, or listening to music require little physical energy but require attention.
If your stress seems out of control, talk to a health care professional. They are here to help.
Talk to Your Health Care Providers
Although cancer-related fatigue is a common and an often expected side effect of cancer and its treatments, you should feel free to mention your concerns to your health care providers. There are times when fatigue may be a clue to an underlying medical problem. Other times, there may be medical interventions to assist in controlling some of the causes of fatigue.
Finally, there may be suggestions that are more specific to your situation that would help in combating your fatigue. Be sure to let your doctor or nurse know if you have:
- Increased shortness of breath with minimal exertion
- Uncontrolled pain
- Inability to control side effects from treatments (such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite)
- Uncontrollable anxiety or nervousness
- Ongoing depression