Receiving a terminal diagnosis, or being given the news that you are suffering from a life-altering illness can come as a huge shock, and devastate the lives of you and your family. Many unanswerable questions will suddenly present themselves, and you may feel overwhelmed, confused and lost. While your doctor or medical team will be able to offer some assurances and support, the way in which you manage your illness and its symptoms will play a huge part in how you cope each day. You may not feel like it immediately after diagnosis but exercise should soon form a part of your daily routine, helping you to feel well in both body and mind. Exercise is a fantastic way to release stress, cleanse body and soul, and to heal, and should never be underestimated when you’re looking for a path to wellness.
Managing your illness with exercise
A healthy diet, including plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and water, is indisputably associated with health and wellbeing, particularly in those suffering from terminal and life-altering illnesses. Indeed, you may have been advised of dietary changes you could be making in order to ameliorate your symptoms. However, exercise is also important to take control of your body and work towards fitness. It is important at this point to note that everybody’s experience of illness is different, and that symptoms won’t always present themselves in the same way. Whatever diagnosis and prognosis you have received, making the decision to exercise more will help you confront each new day. That said, the following summary of illnesses and exercises should serve as an inspirational guide, allowing you to explore your own recuperation, or illness management, in a way that suits you. Many of the exercises, including walking and swimming and will have multiple benefits for anyone. Try those that appeal to you, and remember to listen to what your body, and doctor, are telling you.
Cancer is one of this country’s biggest health threats, and it is estimated that more than 1.6million new cases of the disease will be diagnosed this year. There are many different types of cancer, and varying stages of the illness, however, most experts agree that a healthier lifestyle, including exercise, can aid recovery or assist wellbeing. Gentle exercises, including walking, swimming and cycling can help to lift mood and rebuild strength, while yoga encourages rest, helps sufferers feel more energized, and can center body and spirit. The type of cancer by which a person is affected will often have a bearing upon their physical activity; those with bone cancer will need to avoid strenuous exercises and lifting, for example, while breast cancer sufferers should be wary of upper body training. Seeking advice at this point is vital, but there should be many suitable forms of exercise out there for you.
A diagnosis of Chrohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, is a life-changing one, with numerous implications on your daily routine and way of life. While there are a variety of treatments available, most specialists agree that exercise can form a vital part of a sufferer’s rehabilitation. Moderate aerobic activities, including resistance training, tai chi, yoga, and swimming can help to manage symptoms. In addition, exercise is often cited as a great stress-reliever, and it’s believed that some symptoms of Crohn’s are exacerbated by stress. Overall health and wellbeing can help those with Crohn’s disease to minimize their symptoms, and to improve digestive issues. Walking, cycling, and water aerobics are also thought to aid those with Crohn’s disease, although you must find the right exercise for you.
While there are varying degrees of MS, and a range of symptoms that may or may not affect you, there is little argument that exercise can be used to vastly improve the lives of those suffering from the disease. Exercise is thought to relieve stress, enable those with more restrictive MS to improve their mobility, and to increase muscle strength, as well as helping sufferers to improve their general health and wellbeing. Stretches and strengthening exercises, walking, rowing, cycling, swimming, and yoga could all help you to manage your symptoms, while sports of every kind can be given a go when you’re feeling at your most active.
This summary is by no means exhaustive, and it is important to conduct your own research before exercising, regardless of your illness. For example, while some ALS sufferers have noted small improvements following moderate exercise there is no conclusive evidence for its application during disease-management. If you have been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease, among others, you will no doubt find exercise to be a major part of your rehabilitation. A variety of activities, including those listed above, can have a huge impact upon physical capacity and quality of life, as well as relieving stress on muscles, bones, and major organs, and restoring your body’s functional independence.
When it comes to considering exercise please do listen to any medical restrictions placed upon you by specialists, and be sure to respect any guidelines offered. Illness is a very personal experience so it’s vital you only undertake what your body can manage. Many of the exercises listed in this summary can be undertaken alone if you prefer, but there’s much to be said for group activities and classes. If you can find a club that supports those with a similar illness to yours that is ideal.
While the health benefits of exercise are clear to see, those associated with socializing and friendship can be far reaching, enabling those suffering from long-term illnesses to forget their symptoms for a time, develop supportive associations, and, above all, have fun. Clubs and societies supported by charitable organizations are increasingly popular across the United States, enabling those suffering with life-altering illnesses to access care that is tailored to their needs; The Donald A. Burns Foundation, Inc., which is boosted by its CEO Donald Burns’ profile, is one such organization, with nonprofit partner entities across the country offering palliative care, respite, medical advice, and support for sufferers of a variety of illnesses. The Palliative and Supportive Care of Nantucket (PASCON), which is supported by the foundation, is a life enhancement program designed to assist those with life-changing medical conditions. Accessing such a network and garnering advice regarding your own treatment will no doubt come as a lifeline during your most difficult moments.
The road to feeling well, or towards better management of your illness, can seem a long and daunting one. During your darkest moments it is important to take inspiration from those around you, including those who are suffering from a life-altering illness, but have used exercise to better manage, or even eradicate, their symptoms. One recent high profile case is that of Professor George Jelinek, a sufferer of multiple sclerosis who has managed to contain the symptoms of his disease with a seven-step wellness program, which included more exercise. Determined not to let MS define him as it had his mother, Professor Jelinek committed to exercising for thirty minutes a day, five times a week, and now finds that his condition is under control and almost undetectable. Such stories will no doubt give you hope, although it is essential that you find a routine that works for you.
If you have been inspired to take up exercise, or to attend a club, group or organization in an attempt to manage your illness and its symptoms we wish you the very best. Taking such positive steps is a great way to combat the feelings of hopelessness and frustration that often accompany life-altering illnesses; however, please do listen to the advice of medical specialists, and to your own body because exercises should never be undertaken to the detriment of your health – regardless of how you feel.