Should a cancer patient do intensive and strenuous exercise

Cancer, Exercising

I once had a theory 2 years ago:

Now, we all know that cancer cells do not thrive in oxygenated environment. Logically, cardiovascular exercise will improve the rate in which oxygen is delivered to every nook and cranny of the body. Look at Lance Amstrong and Wendy Chioji– who are cancer survivors and are very active in sports.

So the more intensive the cardiovascular or aerobic exercises, the more oxygen will be delivered to the body. And so, the more cancer cells will be destroyed, right?

The answer is NO- if you ask those who practices healing and holistic medicine. This is an area that most holistic or alternative medicine seemed to agree upon.  Extraordinary people like Lance Amstrong and Wendy Chioji are exception, not the rule.

In Chinese ancient healing system (one of my main reference points because the system has been around and working for thousands of years), too much of intensive physical activities is thought to weaken the immune system. And to have the cancer cells going into remission, the immune system has to be always strong.

That is why when a person is having fever and flu (sign of a compromised immune system), even in Western medicine prescribe water, and lots of rest.

Oxygenation can be achieved through the long term practice of qi gong, tai chi and gentle forms of yoga. These exercise by nature will relax a person and reduce the stress in the body- and a strong mind will play a big role in boosting the immune system.

But it is not to say that all athletes have compromised immune system. You see, to be good in sports, the athletes also need to be good at a number of things:

  • Ability to keep themselves focused at the training at hand instead of letting worries and stress get to them
  • Watch their diet because taking too much of oily and processed food will mess with their digestive system and hinder the performance.
  • They also watch other aspect of their lifestyle- they generally stay away or minimize smoking or alcohol because again, it tempers with their breathing and focus.

A person who is healthy at the beginning and venture into sports will build up a strong cardiovascular system that uses and distributes oxygen effectively and efficiently. That is why there are far less athletes getting cancer compared to a sedentary or inactive person.

When a person has cancer, the immune system is already compromised. As such, it is not longer appropriate to prescribe strenuous exercise- which is only appropriate if prescribed to a healthy adult. But exercise is still important- to improve circulation, digestion, relief stress and relaxes the mind and body.

Once a cancer patient undergoes the necessary treatments, and then changes the dietary and lifestyle aspects- then under the advice of an experienced doctor, he/she may then consider going more strenuous sports like practicing for a marathon.

Read more on Why Nice People Get Cancer.

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