Mesothelioma – both the disease and the mesothelioma treatment – can knock you off your feet. For the sake of your health, it’s important to get back up. Exercise – even very gentle exercise – can improve your health and sense of well-being. To get you started, here are some exercise tips for mesothelioma patients.
Exercise Tips for Mesothelioma Patients: Fatigue, Side Effects, and Your Immune System
There are several ways that mesothelioma patients can benefit from a regular exercise routine. If you exercised regularly before your diagnosis, your physical fitness will serve you well during mesothelioma treatment. Even if you weren’t very active before, taking up more physical activity after your mesothelioma diagnosis can help you feel better and may even improve your survival time.
Below are some specific exercise tips for mesothelioma patients to get you started.
Exercise to Reduce Fatigue
One of the most debilitating and common symptoms that mesothelioma patients face is fatigue. In the face of a wall of tiredness, you may feel like you don’t want to get out of bed. The idea of exercising seems crazy.
Overcoming your fatigue is the hardest part. If you can break through the inertia and add more movement to your life, you will gradually start to feel less tired. This is one of the biggest benefits of exercise for mesothelioma patients.
Exercise tips for mesothelioma patients overcoming fatigue:
- Get help. Have a friend or caretaker walk with you if you feel shaky. Making a date to exercise with a friend can also help motivate you.
- Start small. Even a walk from the bedroom to your kitchen may be enough on your first day.
- Keep adding to your routine. Try to walk a few more steps each day or spend a few more minutes exercising. You may be amazed at your progress after a few weeks!
- Listen to your body. It’s okay to stop and rest when you get tired. Every day is different. If you can’t do as much today as you did yesterday, that’s okay. You may feel stronger tomorrow.
Exercise to Reduce Mesothelioma Chemotherapy Side Effects
During mesothelioma chemotherapy, you may feel nauseous and lose your appetite. This can add to muscle loss due to inactivity.
Exercise will increase your appetite. Staying fit will add to your muscle mass, which will fortify your body to withstand both the cancer and the mesothelioma treatment. Regular exercise can also improve your digestive function.
Exercise tips for mesothelioma patients to combat chemotherapy side effects:
- It’s okay to rest during the worst side effects. You may want to wait a week or two after a mesothelioma chemotherapy treatment before you resume or begin exercising. If you feel extremely ill or fatigued, pushing yourself to do more could be counterproductive.
- Find what works for you. If one type of exercise makes you feel queasy, try something else. The best exercise for you is the one that makes you feel good.
- Don’t give up. Even small amounts of exercise can have a beneficial effect. Every time you get out of bed and move around, you’re collecting the benefits of exercise.
Exercise to Boost Your Immune System
As recent advances in mesothelioma immunotherapy have shown, your body’s own immune system is one of the most powerful tools for combatting cancer. Recent studies have shown that certain types of exercise can boost immune functioning.
The studies found that strenuous exercise reduced the immune response in mice and humans, making them more susceptible to disease for a few days after a big workout. Gentle and moderate exercise, however, made the test subjects more resilient. Researchers discovered that the immune systems of mice who had exercised moderately had a better balance between two types of T cells. They believe this immune system balance helps reduce inflammation, which is important for mesothelioma patients.
Scientific studies point to these exercise tips for mesothelioma patients to boost your immunity:
- Gentle exercise for 20 – 30 minutes at a time is best. Try walking, yoga, or other moderate exercise to boost your immune system.
- Don’t run a marathon. If you are someone who likes strenuous activity, you may need to scale it back, to preserve your immune functioning.
- Be regular. A regular exercise routine gives the most long-term benefits to your immune system.
Lung Capacity Exercise Tips for Mesothelioma Patients
Pleural mesothelioma patients may experience reduced lung capacity. Difficulty breathing is an uncomfortable experience. Lack of oxygen reduces your body’s ability to function well.
Exercise can boost your lung capacity. Increased blood flow to your lungs helps with oxygen intake and distribution.
Any form of movement will get your heart beating faster and your blood flowing. But there are also specific exercises you can do to increase your lung functioning. Here are exercise tips for mesothelioma patients to increase lung capacity:
- Try some breathing exercises If you have had mesothelioma surgery, your doctor probably gave you a contraption called a spirometer and had you blow into it to test and improve your lung capacity. You can also do deep breathing exercises without the machine, to build up your lungs.
- Meditate and follow your breath. Meditation not only calms your mind; it can also help you to breathe more deeply. Try a meditation practice where you follow your breath or focus on your breath.
- Swimming forces you to breathe regularly and is one of the best forms of exercise to improve your lung capacity.
Gentle and Safe Exercise Tips for Mesothelioma Patients
Going for a run or a swim may not be an option if your movement is limited or your immune system has been weakened by mesothelioma treatments. You may need to stay out of the sun or avoid large groups of people to prevent infection.
You can still get some exercise. Here are some exercise tips for mesothelioma patients at home:
- Swing your arms and legs. Our lymphatic systems, which clear toxins from our bodies, need motion to circulate. When you walk, you naturally swing your arms and legs, so walking is great exercise to improve your health. Marching in place and swinging your arms works well too – and you can do that in your living room.
- Stretching is good exercise. You don’t have to run around to move your body and feel better. Yoga or stretching are excellent exercises you can easily do at home.
- Get inspiration. Find a gentle exercise class or yoga workout on video or streaming online. Bring the instructor right into your home.
Exercise for Mental Health and Well-Being
It’s common and normal to feel down when you are dealing with a serious disease like mesothelioma. Your state of mind is just as important to your mesothelioma treatment as your physical strength.
Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Try a few of the exercise tips for mesothelioma patients above or come up with your own. You’ll feel better.