The Beneficial Relationship Between Cancer and Exercise

Here is a guest post from Melanie Bowen, an author for the Mesothelia Cancer blog.  Most people in their life will witness a family member or friend with cancer.  I was very open to having this piece on my blog.  Please feel free to leave a comment below.  Would love your feedback or your stories with this topic.  

The Beneficial Relationship Between Cancer and Exercise
by Melanie Bowen

Rather than feel victimized, cancer patients are often encouraged to concentrate on ways they can aide their own recoveries.  Doctors realize that people who are newly diagnosed with cancer may be tempted to dwell on their uncertain fates and the months of treatments that await them.  However, isolating themselves and focusing solely on this uncertainty can be detrimental.  Today’s cancer patients are advised by their doctors to take charge of their physical conditions and to assist in their fight against this disease.

Fighting cancer typically involves a combination of mental preparedness and physical commitment.  As some authoritative sources have pointed out, mental toughness alone often cannot win the battle.  People must resolve to improve their physical endurance if they want to beat cancer and enjoy lengthy, if not permanent, remissions.  Even if they have never before exercised, patients are told to commit to some type of exercise regimen that they can complete every day.  Regular and continued exercising can be the key to beating cancer and keeping it at bay.

Even so, many people might wonder what kinds of exercise are ideal for cancer patients.  Many people, because of their treatments, may have limited physical reserves and be unable to exert themselves.  Doctors often suggest walking as a way to get regular exercise.  Walking is appreciated as a low impact activity that provides many of the benefits of higher impact exercises.  Even people who suffer the worst side effects from radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery can walk small distances in a bid to improve their physical wellness.  

People with more stamina and mobility may enjoy more intense workouts than those who were not previously active. Whichever level you are beginning at, it is important to talk to your doctor to develop an appropriate plan for your diagnosis and current condition. No matter how short the sessions may be, every little bit can help. Even a short walk around the block can help increase circulation, strengthen muscles and release endorphins to improve the mood.

Many cancer patients do not realize that dwelling on their treatments for mesothelioma and other conditions can negatively impact their lives.  They may not be aware that this worry limits their objectivity when focusing on their long-term prognoses.  Taking charge of their health by committing to daily exercise can greatly improve their moods and benefit their overall quality of life.  Exercising may be the last thing on their minds after they are diagnosed.  However, exercise may be key in their recoveries.

I can tell you first hand that exercising on a regular basis can go a long way. My grandmother was not an active person before her liver cancer diagnosis, and was truthfully over weight. She began walking and even lifting very light weights not long after her diagnosis. Although she ended up succumbing to the disease, within a few months we saw a huge change in her outlook along with a boost in her energy. It was evident that even a little bit of physical activity allowed her to enjoy her last few months with a far more positive attitude and energy for life.

Why Lift Heavy Things?

Real Raw Reasons of Why You Should Train to Lift Heavy Things

Why lift heavy things?  Why focus on getting stronger?  I asked this question to a diverse group of people of all ages.  Some of their answers were obvious while others offered up not so recognizable reasons of why one should focus on lifting heavy and getting stronger.  This applies to EVERYONE! Strength is truly a personal decision that one embraces.  If you are able bodied and have chosen to not work towards being a stronger YOU than you've made your choice.  It's never too late to start.  First accept the fact that you are worth it.  As we age, we realize fitness and training is no longer about just looking good.  We've had a major paradigm shift about what it is to look and be healthy and sexy.  I find it truly liberating.  Trying to be very skinny is no longer sought after.   It's about being strong, powerful and carrying an aura of vigor that the world will feel and see from you. 

1. Haul two 42 pounders of Costco kitty litter to my car.  
- Inna Zozulyzak 

2.  I can do what I set out to do.  My confidence in myself and my abilities has grown exponentially in just a few short months!
 -  Melissa Szurovy

3.  I can now easily carry all 6 grocery bags into the house at once! 
- Maia Molina-Schaefer

4. Can easily pick up and carry boxes of novels and textbooks around campus! 
-  Robin Duncan 

5. Preventative maitenance...I work as a nurse, and see the elderly who are 30-50 years older than myself, and how some of them break a hip from losing their balance, are too inflexible to squat or get back up again, or cannot even go from rolling to the side and sitting in bed. Use it or lose it, I say.
 - Tina Bragdon

6. It helps when moving. I could easily help lift the tv stand, move dressers, the tv, heavy boxes AND held up a car for a friend while they changed the tire. 
- Christina Bower

7.  I can carry my 35 lb child up the big hill from Beacons, along with two beach chairs & a heavy beach bag. KB's has also given me a new confidence in my strength, I used to feel that I could never try anything new that required much physical strength (mud runs, rock wall climbing, etc) I felt too weak, or that I just wasn't that girl. But now, I feel more like, why not? I can be that girl. 
- Leilani Carducci

8. Lug my big maya 55 lbs and lil sis kiana 35 lbs around and run with them in the jogger  the heavy reps with kbs feel sooo good
- Hilary Girvin

9. Heavy lifting has had the obvious physical effects most noticeably during my running, golf, swimming and cycling. But more importantly, heavy lifting has provided significant mental toughness and focus and allows for me to accomplish all of the challenges that life throws at me with confidence and poise. 
- David Sacks

10. Heavy lifting makes me feel stronger and stand taller. The physical benefits are obvious and can be seen by all. The mental benefits of accomplishing goals, finding focus, feeling strong and standing tall are for me to personally enjoy.
- Andrea Suarez

11. No need to ask men for help moving furniture  
- Lindsey Dunn

12. I like being strong enough to carry my daughter around when she needs me to.
- Meghan Collins

13. To use the muscles God has given me, and honoring Him with my body, to use it and not let it go! I chose to have my children after I was 30, I want to be there physically for them, and exercise also helps with the mentally part too. To enjoy the life I have been given, and to be blessed and bless others. 
- Amy Mahar

14. I love having a surplus of energy for my every day activities. Strength allows me to roll with the punches effortlessly.
- Husna Lapidus

15.  I like that I can do push ups! I like that I'm setting a good example for my kids. I'm amazed and proud at what my body can do, and have grown to love it instead of hate it. Stretch marks and all. 
- Cyndi Gangi

16. Serious answer - when I became a mom I swore I'd do what it takes to keep my children safe. A few years ago they started topping 100+ pounds and I realized I needed to step up my game in order to carry them to safety. Even though they're now teenagers I still feel this need to be able to fireman carry them out of a burning building at a moment's notice. And yes, test this theory out on occasion. 
- Jill Singer

17. Maybe this isn't a direct correlation to strength, but at 51 years old, being able to move my body as a whole; to have gained functional strength as well as conditioning using kettlebells has been amazing. I used to do a lot of yoga but I never got into half pigeon until I did kettlebells, my flexibility has greatly improved. I think the strength gained physically manifests in emotional and spiritual strength as well. Thank you Lauren, for all that you do for us Slamers
- Jane Miller

18.  I can handle my own! I don't need to depend on someone to do the work that needs done. And I also think that Muscle strength gives you mental strength... Aka confidence. 
- Rachel Mac

19. Being in an obese family, I like that my 4 year old daughter asks me to do squats and push ups... oh and she was the only kid at the park who could do pull ups and go all the way across the monkey bars. She is seeing that it's "normal" to be healthy and that girls can be strong too
- Melinda Yvonne

20. Over 50 and still in the game and feel as fit as the younger crowd! I love keeping in shape, inspiring others (found one of my kettlebells in my 17 year old son's room) and getting strong with planned out goals. Cardio, running,yoga, walking and classes at the gym cannot compare to the results from the kettlebells! I had back surgery 3 years ago and haven't looked back. 
- Susan Romano

21. I could write a novel about this. One unique reason: Being strong allowed me to be a Human Ski Lift in the mountains to ease my little ones plus their friend, in to the new world of skiing.  Hiking up a snowy mountain holding a child fully loaded with skis and then walking down to catch them over and over and over again was truly amazing.  Couldn't have done it if I didn't make the choice to be a super strong powerful woman/mom!  
- Lauren Brooks (Me)  :D

22. I like being strong enough to handle things that others think a woman would have trouble with...I have loaded six 40lb bags of water softner salt, have moved 5 yards of topsoil by wheelbarrow by myself, and other such stuff. 
- Tina Bragdon

23. Heavy KB Lifting most enabled me to have a PR (Personal Record) the 10K (55:15) followed by a time of 2:04 in the Half Marathon the following day (PR is 2:01), WITHOUT DOING DISTANCE RUNS.  Thanks Lauren for all of your encouragement, blogs and training!
- Melissa Szurovy

24. Being strong shifts the focus to what your body can do instead of what it looks like and that is like a breath of fresh air.
  Leanne Lane

25.  My 13 year old granddaughter has cerebral palsy. She is a wheelchair user but is learning to walk with the aid of a frame after an operation. I would hate to be in a position where I was not strong enough to help her get around.
- Christine Hand

26. We live on an acreage and out back of our house we feed the deer this apple flavored deer corn. Hauling the 40 pound bags of deer corn doesn't sound like a lot of work but it IS! 
 - Carrie Kiene

27.  When my mom had brain cancer I helped take care of her. I was the only one in a fam. of six who could lift her and when my dad broke his cervical collar, who do think could help move him? Couldn't do it without strong muscles. I couldn't stand it if I wasn't able to help aging or sick family members. A somewhat odd reason (maybe?) is that I am super impatient when it comes to getting things done. I hate waiting for someone to help me lift, push, or pull something! 
- Ann Rizzo

28.  I like being able to walk for 10 minutes with 3 heavy shopping bags (plus a cross body bag) from the bus home & not feel like I'm going to die.  
- Charmaine Hanshaw

29.  I want to maintain my independence into old age and part of that is to build and maintain a foundation of strength. 
Charmaine Hanshaw

30. As someone who is over 40 with 5 kids, with the youngest being just 8, I want to be able to keep up with my kids as they grow. I want them to see that I do take care of myself, and that even if you have an area of weakness (I've never been strong) you can do something about it. And I don't want to grow old with grace; I want to grow old with strength. 
- Kim Rafalski

31. Because being a mom,who is also single, almost 40, independent and STRONG makes me feel like a complete and sexy woman. Women like you Lauren Brooks, inspire me!  Thank you! 
- Susy Presedo

32. Being physically strong makes me feel emotionally strong. That combination will get you through anything life throws at you!
 - Regina Blood

Now a few words from my friends and colleagues whom I've personally worked with, laughed with and we continue to share our reasons of why. We invigorate one another and continue to inspire this strength movement each in a unique fashion.  I asked them each to share a simple not so obvious maybe even funny reason.  Here is what these ladies have shared. 

33. As I am living my life with my two beauties, I've come to realize that they ARE my strength. Before I had babies, I underestimated my strengths, I didn't appreciate my body, or the result of my hard work. I really took a lot for granted (including a full-night's sleep!). Life with them is slow & fast at the same time. Seeing life through them, is like a new life every day. Guiding and molding them is my opportunity to make the world better, brighter & stronger. The best I can do now is be a steady & strong example for them. I am a firm believer in the long-lasting benefits of nursing, baby-wearing & most to all things "granola." Which, usually makes things a little more taxing on my part. But that is when I have the opportunity to learn, grow, & become stronger...all of which I am grateful for &I appreciate that I have the ability to continue to do. 
- Sara Cheatham - Master Z-Health Trainer, Founder of Red Star Athletics

34. The obvious reasons were not the initial attraction for me. Lose fat, increased bone density, look good naked and so on. It was the undeniable confidence of executing the lifts themselves. Something about owning a lift you've worked so hard to complete is so empowering and joyful, the rest of it just falls into place naturally. So, I lift because it brings me joy
- Gabby Eborall SFG II and owner of North Beach Kettlebell 

35. I lift heavy things because... NOT doing it just seems kind of stupid. And boring. 
- Nikki Shlosser  SFG Senior  super duper strong chic

36. I lift heavy things because I like how it makes me look. Really if it didn't make me feel as if I looked good I wouldn't do it. I spent a large (no pun intended) portion of my life, over 40 years, living in a body that was way below my potential and it was not fun, in fact it felt very painful, but I didn't know I had any other option. I started lifting/moving heavy things in hopes of looking nicer. I have many people tell me how much they admire my "discipline" to my reply is that I'm not disciplined, I'm greedy. I'm not going back to how things were before, I'm not giving any of this back, ever. And of course I'm also referring to the confidence and freedom I feel when I live a strong, capable, healthy and fit life, not just feeling like I look good. Lifting/moving heavy things is a win, win, win, win, win situation. 
- Tracy Reifkind - SFG, Queen of Kettlebell Swings and Author of "The Swing"

37.  I lift heavy things because I want to age well and never be frail. But let's face it, at 51 with 9 year old twins, it reminds them that I am stronger than the other moms even though I'm older. I don't want them to think they are missing anything. I have more wrinkles but I have more muscles!!
- Candas Jones SFG II

38. I lift heavy because the benefits and results for doing it makes me a physical and mental healthy person.
 -  Yoana Teran  SFG Team Leader 

39. I lift heavy because I care deeply about my health and want to stay as strong and independent as possible my whole life long. Also, it just feels good. 
Melody Schoenfeld - Owner of Flawless Fitness, SFG 2  Tiniest vegan package of strength and power.  

40. I lift heavy because I am constantly working to better myself, in hopes of becoming more than I've ever been. I feel that strength is the ultimate physical manifestation of one's dedication, commitment, passion, and drive to be not only self-sufficient, but to be a force to be reckoned with in all fronts of life. I lift heavy so that I can work hard for others, play long with loved ones, and live a strong, empowered life. 
- Laura Nepodal  SFG awesome strong chic

41. I lift heavy things because I don't want to depend on someone else to do every day tasks for me. When I worked a corporate job I hated when changing the water at the cooler, a girl would say "Get a guy to do it." I strive to be as self sufficient as possible and being strong plays a big part in that. 
- Delaine Ross  SFG Senior and owner of Condition Kettlebell Gym

42. Learning how to be strong physically in ways that have gone far beyond the typical gym-rat mentality and deep into the principals of true strength is one of the reasons lifting heavy is so rewarding. Heavy has brought me so much more than just the physicality if being strong - it has informed my motherhood, how I am in the world, how I see myself - strong has given me back to myself, and there is no richer reward.
- Andrea U-Shi Chang SFG Senior and owner of Kettlebility

43. I have always been a small boned petite girl with long legs and long arms... Mighty Mouse" was my nickname in school. Strength was important to me and came as a by product of my years of formal dance training to be honest. But it was this overall strength that kept me injury free and able to do many fun things in and out of highschool, college, motherhood,etc! But now more than ever I have come to appreciate my own strength gains through the years of training because it empowered me for, well, LIFE!! In my opinion, training for strength is more than just physical training , it builds mental toughness, stamina, the drive to be self disciplined, self motivated, emotional stability, and builds a can do attitude that when in contact with others is infectious. When you are strong you learn to deal with crisis better! I learned firsthand on November 15 when I was the victim(sort of:-)) of an attempted mugging. Instinctively, I fought the perpetrator and won. They say you either choose fight or flight in moments like that. I chose fight and won. Had I not been strong in mind and body I don't think I would have had the same result of my mugging. I am grateful for my abilities and opportunities to train for strength. WE ALLl have the opportunity to do so. And it will make us better for ourselves and those we come in contact with too! We will be able to help others in need as well however that may be.... Just my humble opinion. BTW it is cool to be small and lift HEAVY! Some are shocked and amazed!! 
Betsy Collie  SFG Senior and owner of Rapid Results Fitness

44. I lift heavy to be a strong yet feminine example for my daughter. I want her to grow to be a strong confident young lady who inspires others. Another reason I lift heavy is because I enjoy what it does for my body. I want to show women that age doesn't matter, it is possible to look and feel better at 40 then at 20. 
- Karen McDowell Smith SFG Master and Owner of Kettlebell Elite

45. There is nothing I love more than working out. It's the only thing I have that no one else can take from me. It's a release and my best friend. I can honestly say that it's changed my life at the same time that it has saved my life. It's not a work out, or a program for me, it's a life style I can't live without.
- Katie Dawers SFG and Coach at On The Edge Fitness

46. I lift heavy because of the positive benefits it has on me physically and emotionally. Through the journey of learning how to lift heavy I have gained self esteem and confidence that I never knew I had. All of these benefits I have been able to transfer into a happier and healthier life.
- Mira Kwon  SFG and Nike Performance Network Manager

47. It's the basis of me running fast on the football field. So the relationship is not necessarily direct, but rather a component of the speed I need to still play flag football at a decent level. To be honest, I find lifting SUPER boring. I am too ADD for it but it is like flossing my teeth. I do it for my health because I know the value in it. And it allows me to do other things safely. Plus it is fun running a 40 at the same speed as a man almost 1/2 your age. WINK! 
- Carmen Bott    Performance and Conditioning Specialist at Fortius Centre and Instructor at Kinesiology at Langara College

48. We have become accustomed to comfort and convenience, and the market responds to our demand to make everything easier. We forget that we are wired for survival in harsh conditions, that it wasn't so long ago (in evolutionary terms) that we lived in a brutal state of nature. Strength was required to live, not just look fit during Spring Break at the beach. I'm running a strength program at the gym right now that includes the powerlifts. Many of the women in the program had never deadlifted with a barbell until they took this class. They are exhilarated by the move, which taps into some sort of primitive natural impulse to be strong. Lifting heavy things connects us deeply to our genetic inheritance to survive and thrive through strength and the mental fortitude that comes with it.
- Keira Newton Master RKC - Owner of DKB Fitness

THANK YOU for reading.  Please share with us why YOU have chosen to lift heavy things of why you are considering it. I encourage you to leave a comment if any of these reasons speak to you.  Thanks again!

To Yours in Strength,

Lauren Brooks