HealthSmart

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Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Relief from cancer-related exhaustion may come from a walk around the block

As if cancer weren’t bad enough, chemotherapy treatments leave patients with a crippling fatigue.

Instead of dropping activities to rest and overcome exhaustion, an exercise guru advised survivors to get up and move. 

“The number one symptom everyone feels is fatigue,” said Ryne Jordan, exercise physiologist for TherapyPlus Wellness, speaking to the LIFE support group at the Marshall Cancer Care Center. 

Chemotherapy treatments can lead to infection, altered metabolism, anemia, pain, nausea and vomiting.

“All of that can physically wear on you and make you tired all day,” he said. 

As if that’s not enough to have you dragging, having cancer also disrupts sleep and rest, leads to poor nutrition, dehydration, lack of exercise and the stress of dealing with the disease. 

Coping with fatigue requires managing symptoms and adjusting your lifestyle, Jordan said.

“Balance energy like it’s a bank account,” he advised. “Save it for the things you need to do and for the things you enjoy doing.”

Ways to balance energy:

  • Nutrition
  • Hydration
  • Sleep/rest
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Fun/relaxation
  • Peace of mind
  • Meaningful work

Ways to drain energy:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Sleep deficit
  • Emotional stress
  • Worry
  • Lack of exercise
  • Deconditioning
  • Work

Take part in everyday activities, such as gardening, going to the park, doing puzzles, crafts and reading. 

“Allow time between activities to rest,” he said. “There is no shame in taking naps.”

Exercise builds up stores of energy – the more you exercise, the more energy you have. Be smart, though. Avoid vigorous exercise on chemo days or blood testing. 

Jordan recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. That can be 30 minutes, five days a week or 50 minutes, three times a week. 

“You don’t have to do minutes consecutively,” he said. 

Also, progress slowly and listen to your body. Don’t worry if you miss a day or two.

Cancer patients also should plan meals ahead so they have something healthy to eat. 

“Eat small meals throughout the day,” he said. “Try five small meals instead of three big ones.”

Also, drink eight glasses of water each day to get rid of waste products. And get extra protein and carbs. 

Good news on the cancer front : The main reason chemo patients feel fatigue is that chemotherapy destroys healthy cells along with targeted ones. Advances in chemotherapy, however, help target just the affected cells. 

Marshall Cancer Care Center’s LIFE group is open to all cancer survivors. It meets on the second Tuesday of each month at noon in the classroom of the Professional Center next door to the Marshall Cancer Care Center, just south of Cracker Barrel in Guntersville. Lunch is provided and there is no charge. A reservation is required, and can be made by calling (256)571-8000.

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