Exercising with Cancer – Exercise Provides a Greater Quality of Life

I’ve not ever published a guest blog but I’ve been contacted recently by David Haas of Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance who was keen to write an article about how exercise can help cancer patients. With the Virgin London marathon just around the corner and me running it for Macmillan Cancer Support  after fundraising for the last six months, it seemed a very fitting subject, so I agreed to let David write a guest post for my blog. Here’s what David has to say….

Exercise Provides a Greater Quality of Life

Exercise is important for individuals who are experiencing cancer at any stage: diagnosis, treatment or recovery. The type of exercise recommended may vary but overall exercise can help individuals with cancer have more energy, be physically healthier and feel better than those who do not partake. An exercise plan should be developed with the help of a physician so that it is deemed safe, but it is important for individuals going through cancer to try their hardest to stay physically active.

There are many types of exercise that can be helpful during cancer. If an individual is feeling tired and lousy because of treatments or medications it is recommended that light exercise be performed regularly. This can include taking a short walk around the neighborhood or hospital, or doing light stretching or yoga. These activities will help invigorate a tired patient but will not make them feel exhausted or increase their feelings of sickness.

Individuals who are experiencing troubles with their lymph nodes during a cancer prognosis are prompted to exercise to help reduce swelling. Light weight lifting, mild aerobic exercise or yoga are all helpful during this time. This should be performed under the recommendation of a physician to ensure that it is safe for the patient. People with cancer, such as mesothelioma, can feel better after doing some health-promoting exercises.

Yoga is an exercise that is good for people in all stages of cancer because it is a mind and body exercise. This means that it helps the body to grow stronger and fitter but it also helps relax the mind. Yoga has been known to bring spiritual awareness to people and help them gain a more positive attitude on life. If this is performed during cancer treatment or recovery there is a better chance that the patient will feel better and fight harder to cure themselves of the disease.

Having cancer can cause depression in many people. Exercise helps to elevate the feel-good chemicals in the body that naturally help diminish depression. Patients who exercise regularly do not report having as many problems with depression as others do who do not exercise. This is one more reason why adding a few minutes of exercise to a person’s daily routine can help them to recover from cancer more quickly.

Life after cancer requires that individuals exercise to help prevent future cancer from occurring. Exercise can help prevent the occurrence of many types of cancer including breast, colon, endometrial and many others. It is recommended that adults recovering from cancer exercise three to five days per week for at least one hour at a time. A healthy lifestyle that includes eating a diet rich in nutrients can also help the individual’s quality of life. Fighting cancer is a difficult battle and exercise can help people get a little closer to winning. There are no guarantees when it comes to cancer but individuals who exercise generally feel better than those who do not.

If you, a friend or a family member are going through cancer, why not speak to someone like David and have a chat about how exercise can help you and what you should be doing. You can contact David through his blog at The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog.

If you would like to find out why David’s blog is so fitting, please feel free to read my story and why I’m running the London marathon for a cancer related charity at my just giving page.

Remember, exercise can help in all areas of life, whether you have an illness or you don’t. You are not alone; there are plenty of people across the world that you can talk too that will help you and support you along the way.

Thanks for reading David’s post.

Fail to Prepare; Prepare to Fail!

After using the phrase ‘Fail to prepare; prepare to fail!’ this week, I thought it would be a great place to start when writing my blog. As I’m in the process of training for the London Marathon in 2012 I find myself back in the same mindset as I was as a footballer, not leaving anything to chance and making sure every training run is prepared for properly. It made me think about how others prepare themselves for their sports or just for training in general. I’ve come up with a few questions and tips that might help you train and perform to your best…..

  • Are you eating the right foods before training or the main performance? 

TIP – What you put into your body prior to training/performing will provide you with the energy you need to perform at your best. If you don’t eat right, don’t expect to perform to your best! High carbohydrate foods before hand should leave you with the energy to perform at a good level without feeling tired/drained. I tend to eat foods like, chicken, pasta, rice, bananas, toast and cereal. The size and type of food depends on the time of day I eat it and how long I have before the performance. Ideally, a big meal should be eaten 3 hours prior to the performance or smaller, lighter foods such as toast for anything closer to the performance. Remember to leave enough time for your food to go down and start the digestion process or it will sit on your stomach and make it uncomfortable to run or move when performing.

  • Are you drinking enough of the right fluids before and during training or the main performance?

TIP – Very similar to the tip above, the fluids that you put into your body prior to and during training/performing, will prevent you from becoming dehyrated and will replace lost salts from sweating. Drinking plenty of water before training/performing will help the body be at its best. If you feel dehydrated the damage is already done! It only takes 2-3% of water loss in the body before endurance starts to suffer and your performance also suffers. A little bit more(5%) and it effects the mind making it hard to concentrate and the body continues to suffer with pace slowing down. Keeping hydrated is vital! Isotonic drinks are a good tool during training/performing as they replace lost salts and also have a high concentration of carbs to keep the energy levels up. If possible, try to take plenty of fluids with you during your training/performance and keep drinking small amounts at regular intervals. It’s easier for sports like cycling for obvious reasons that you can connect a drink to your bike, but I’ve been known to hide drink bottles in a quiet place on a route I plan on taking a long distance run, so that I have a drink at certain stages of that run. Don’t neglect drinking fluids and make sure they are the right fluids, not fizzy drinks, tea, coffee etc as they are diuretics and will only dehydrate you more!

  • Do you have the right equipment and clothing?

TIP – This is a very important tip! Having the wrong equipment or clothing could be costly, not just because of comfort but because you can risk injury. Until you know a sport, it’s very difficult to know what you might need, so make sure you speak to the right people and get advice on the essentials from people who perform in that sport or know their stuff. An example: Until running long distances, you might not have ever thought about blisters, chafing, correct trainers for your gait etc, but all of them can make the difference between performing at your best and a very uncomfortable event. Clothing such as 1000 mile blister free socks, lined shorts, vaseline or other lubricants to prevent chafing and correct trainers(sometimes fitted with orthotics if necessary!) are a must. Sometimes it’s trial and error but there are specific sports shops that can advise you if you need help. How about riding up a steep hill on your bike and the gears keep slipping? Again something that can cause an injury if you’re on a road amongst traffic and can really make your ride much more difficult. Maybe it’s about the right foot wear in a football match. Do you have moulded boots for hard grounds and studded boots for soft weather grounds? It’s not just the equipment/clothing it’s also the colour! I have recently been on a training run in the clothing you can see in the picture to the right which looks fine until you know I went out later in the day and misjudged the time. I ended up running in the dark in black clothing without any reflectors on. I rarely make mistakes like this and there were no problems on the run, BUT there could have been and next time I might not be so fortunate. I have learnt from my mistake and it’s a good mistake to highlight as an example of the title of this blog.

So in conclusion, don’t leave things to chance! There are many more tips I could give you about performing to your best but the blog would go on all day, so I’ll save it for another day. The higher the level you perform at, the smaller the margins are. Not drinking enough, eating the wrong foods at the wrong time, wearing the wrong clothing and using the wrong equipment and generally not preparing for your performance could be the difference between being a winner or a loser! What would you rather be?

Running the VLM Marathon in Memory in 2012

Many people out there will know it is the time of year where they are starting to prepare for the Virgin London Marathon in 2012, after receiving an acceptance letter from the ballot, or feeling the disappointment of receiving a rejection letter instead. I was one of the latter and when you have your heart set on something as much as I did, I can tell you just how bad it feels to have the chance taken away.

I was determined that 2012 was going to be my year for running the marathon and I decided the ballot wasn’t going to be my last hope, so I made the decision to go for a gold bond place with a charity instead. I had planned on raising money for Cancer Research if I was accepted through the ballot, so this was the first charity I contacted. Unfortunately all their gold bond places had been taken so I contacted other relevant charities that meant something to me. I’m happy to announce that I was accepted by Macmillan Cancer Support and I can’t put into words how happy this has made me. If you read my story you will understand why. The story behind running the London Marathon for a cancer charity can be seen at my Just Giving page. I urge you all to read my story and then decide if donating is something you would like to do. If it isn’t, all I ask is that you share the link and make people aware of what I’m doing and for doing that I will be very appreciative.

So, now the hard work begins! The long training runs and the fundraising over the next six months all leading up to one day. I have no doubt it will be one very long emotional day for me but with all the support I have behind me, I know that when my legs start to fatigue, thoughts of everyone that has donated over the six months will give me wings and lift me to my goal. I will remember every penny donated to such an amazing cause and together we will make a difference to so many lives around the world.

As part of my fundraising and aim to raise awareness, I have started a facebook page to keep everyone that joins, up to date with my latest training, news, fundraising events and ‘thank you’s’ to everyone that donates to the cause. If you are on facebook, please feel free to join my page and support me. It’s amazing how far a few words of support can go on someone’s wall!!!

For the next six months, deep in the back of my mind one date will always be there…..22nd April 2012. When that day arrives I will run with all the passion and emotion I have in me and I WILL NOT let anyone down. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for reading this blog and my story, and also thank everyone for all the support you have given me so far and right through to race day. Without you, this would never be possible.

Thank you all.