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Tips for Safely Exercising with Lung Cancer

A well-designed exercise program can help one suffering with cancer of lung to feel better physically and mentally. It can help better cope with cancer treatment. Help decrease cancer-related fatigue, and reduce the severity of other treatment-related side effects. It may also decrease the risk of further disease.

Note: Regardless of cancer type and activity level, you should consult with your care team before undertaking any exercise program.

Essential Workout Tips

Always Listen to your body

Don’t get frustrated if your body cannot handle the level of exercise you may be used to. Start “low and slow” with several 5-10-minute sessions of light walking, or easy cycling, swimming, or other cardio, several times a day, and build from there with small milestones.

Practice Deep Breathing Exercises

Start your exercise program with breathing exercises. Restoring breathing can help improve endurance, making it easier to accomplish daily activities. Key breathing exercise is called “diaphragmatic breathing through pursed lips.”

Diaphragmatic breathing strengthens the diaphragm, which is a muscle between your lungs and your abdomen, as well as the abdominal muscles.

This allows more air to move in and out of the lungs with less tiring of the chest muscles. This exercise can also help you regulate your breathing if you become short of breath during an activity.

Use a Pedometer.

Measure your steps for a week to set a baseline, and slowly set goals from there. You will be surprised at how much you move when you’re not thinking about “exercise.” It will work as a booster.

Watch your Posture.

Sitting down all day at a desk or driving can take a toll on posture, which is directly correlated to breathing and lung capacity. Work on keeping your shoulders and chin back and opening your body to encourage deep breathing.

Yoga and Qigong can help you develop better posture and increased lung capacity, which will make other exercise much easier.

Incorporate Strength Training.

Cancer treatments can cause weight gain and muscle and bone density loss, which strength training can help combat. Start small and consult your doctor before beginning a strength training plan.

Vary the intensity and duration of exercise. Rather than exercising at the same intensity and duration every time, exercise for a longer duration at a lower intensity on some days. On days when you feel particularly good, exercise for a shorter duration but at a slighter higher intensity. Mixing it up will help you get the most out of your workouts.

Warm up, Stretch, and Cool Down with Each Exercise Session.

Stretching will increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles, improves muscle elasticity, and helps the body to repair itself. Daily upper body stretching exercises will help expand the chest cavity and increases lung capacity. 

Patients with lung cancer and other cancers and blood disorders should schedule an exercise consultation with an exercise physiologist to measure their fitness level and create a comprehensive plan to meet their goals. 

Exercise of any kind carries therapeutic Benefit.

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