Mesothelioma and Exercise: What Patients Should Know About Physical Activity
For people with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), life after treatment can be very different. Things like diet, rest and daily activities usually change to accommodate a person’s new health status. But that doesn’t mean that everything from your old life has to fall away. Certain things, like regular exercise, can still be an important part of your weekly schedule.
At Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley, we know. We’ve spent almost 40 years helping people with MPM understand their legal and medical options. While we always recommend that patients talk to their doctor about physical activity, we do know that moderate, low-impact exercise can help improve quality of life for some people with mesothelioma.
In fact, two new studies have proven it.
Moderate activity boosts QoL
The pair of reports, both published in an August issue of the journal The Cochrane Library, essentially said the same thing. (And they should – they’re written by the same people.) For individuals with cancer, exercise can help improve their quality of life (QoL).
Each paper comes in the form of a literature review, combining the results of as many as 56 prior trials involving more than 4,800 people with cancer. The authors found that, overall, physical activity boosted a number of QoL indicators.
After six months of exercise-based interventions, participants exhibited improvements in:
- Overall QoL
- Body image
- Emotional wellness
- Sexual activity
- Pain levels
- Anxiety levels
- Physical mobility
- Social interactions
Researchers said that “together, these reviews suggest that exercise may provide quality of life benefits for people who are undergoing or have undergone treatment for cancer.”
But be cautious
While life with mesothelioma does not necessarily have to be taken lying down, it’s important to be judicious with physical activity. Patients who have just received treatments must take several weeks (or, in many cases, months) to fully recover. Once a doctor clears you for exercise, start slow.
The Mayo Clinic recommends beginning with relaxation exercises, in which you slowly tense and then release different muscle groups. After that, MPM patients may gradually work their way up to yoga, tai chi, hiking or slow jogging.
In all cases, patients should have someone on hand to help moderate their level of activity and to assist in case they begin feeling dizzy or faint. Remember to warm up beforehand, cool down afterward and drink fluids throughout.
And again, as the American Cancer Society emphasizes, only engage in exercise after being cleared by your cancer team.
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Strategies for Coping with a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Mesothelioma Support Services and Groups: Benefits and How to Find Them