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Fitness and Nutrition Plans Key to Cancer Survival and Recovery, Says New Report

Newly diagnosed cancer patients that place an emphasis on their physical and psychological wellbeing have a better chance of survival and recovery, according to a report published by a group of charities. It could also help them access treatments which would have otherwise not been tolerated. 

“People are less vulnerable to the side effects of cancer treatment if they are as healthy as possible, physically and psychologically,” read the paper. 

The report by Macmillan Cancer Support, the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the National Institute for Health Research Cancer and Nutrition Collaboration, supported the notion of preventative action and “prehabilitation” as soon as possible. The charities suggest that cancer patients should seek out personalized recommendations to optimize their lifestyle, so maximize their resilience to treatment and improve quality of life. 

Prehabilitation includes quitting unhealthy habits, like smoking, intaking excess alcohol, sugar, and drugs, and adopting a more active lifestyle. Specifically, the new report says that those diagnosed with cancer should increase the percentage of fruits and vegetables in their diet, limit alcohol to a maximum of 14 units a week, maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking, and exercise at least 150 minutes per week. 

The report was backed by a series of studies showing that exercise can reduce chances of survival. For example, Yale University researchers found that a daily brisk walk of just 25 minutes lowered the mortality rate among women with breast cancer by nearly 50%. 

While the mental and physical weight of a diagnosis may make it difficult for people to jump to change their lifestyle for the better before treatment, the study offered expert advice for exercising with pain. 

Recommendations include “knowing your boundaries,” which means stopping before you feel significant stiffness and pain, and being okay with moderate soreness. For pain that will not resolve itself, it is important to connect with a physiotherapist or a personal trainer. 

To get all of the benefits of your workout while staying safe, you must also know the correct form. “Learn the right way to do big moves such as squats and deadlifts, as these are the moves where you can injure yourself or feel more pain,” said chartered physiotherapist Joseph Moore, from the Center for Human Performance. He recommends giving your body a 48-hour wait period between heavy or high impact muscle work. Within that period, you can do exercises that work other muscles, such as swimming.

Moore emphasizes the importance of stretching, which is vital for recovery and also lengthens and builds up muscle. 

“It takes the muscles through a full range of movement and helps blood flow, which flushes out the waste products such as lactic acid that might build up from your exercise programme.” He recommends yoga or Pilates once or twice a week.

“We want to see prehabilitation implemented soon after diagnosis so that people living with cancer feel empowered to improve their health and get the personalised care they need,” added Moore.


fitbit

FitBit offers wireless-enabled, wearable activity trackers designed to help you become more active, eat a more well-rounded diet, sleep better and ultimately, make you healthier by measuring data such as the number of steps walked, heart rate, quality of sleep, steps climbed, and other personal metrics involved in fitness. The Fitbit lines includes options you can wear on your wrist or clip to your clothes. Some Fitbit models track your heart rate, while others offer fewer features but are more affordable. For more information, click here.


MySwimPro

This app serves as a personal swim coach to help you be the best swimmer you can and get the most from your workouts wherever you are. You’ll choose from one of five workout categories and learn from the best, set goals and improve your technique. Geared for all levels of swimming, from beginning to very experienced. Workouts are 100% personalized to your swimming goal.


The Last Pick

"If you can dream it, it can happen." In this heartening book, Boston Marathon race director and motivational speaker David McGillivray shares the challenges he has overcome to inspire readers to similar triumphs in their own lives. Click here to order.


MapMyFitness

This family of apps including MapMyRide, MapMyRun, MapMyWalk, MapMyHike and MapMyFitness gives users the tools to map, record and share their exercise routes and workouts with each other. Includes 160+ million of the best running, cycling and walking routes around the world. No charge for basic services. Premium membership available for a fee. For more information, visit www.mapmyfitness.com


Misfit

The Misfit line of wearable activity trackers are unique in design, affordability and count steps, calories, distance, sleep quality and duration. Water resistant and designed to be worn on pants, shirts, shoes, lapels and even a key chain as well as the wrist, Misfit wearables do not require charging. The product line includes a wearable tailored to tracking swim workouts. Products sync with the Misfit smartphone app. Touch responsive, doubles as a music remote, selfie trigger, presentation clicker or button to enable a variety or home devices and web services. For more information, click here.


Garmin

While Garmin offers a range of wearable fitness trackers at a variety of prices, the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ consistently receives high marks. Named Fitness Tracker of the Year at the Wareable Tech Awards 2016, it includes a great mix of activity, heart rate, sleep and GPS tracking. For more information, click here. To see the entire line of Garmin fitness trackers, click here.