Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Guest Post: Using Exercise to Manage the Stress of Cancer

Thanks to David Hass for preparing this guest post on using exercise to manage the stress of cancer.  David can be reached via email, and check out David's blog, here.

Using Exercise to Manage the Stress of Cancer
Whether you've recently been diagnosed with cancer or are going through treatments, stress plays a major role in your life. Even cancer survivors will experience a variety of stressors in their day-to-day activities. While stress itself is unavoidable, how you react to those negative situations can improve your cancer symptoms and side effects or make them worse.
Cortisol and Stress
Everyone reacts to stress in different ways. If you feel threatened by a situation you consider uncomfortable, the body releases hormones to help you deal with the problem. If the problem is prolonged as in the case of cancer, the hypothalamus in the brain will encourage the adrenal glands to release a steroid hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol mobilizes and regulates the amount of energy you need to handle the situation.
That makes cortisol directly responsible for slowing metabolism. A slow metabolism encourages weight gain when you're under stress. Cortisol produces cravings for fatty and sugary foods, and it influences other hormones that play a more generalized role in appetite. Cortisol also causes the excess fatty acids circulating in your blood as well as your fat stores to deposit themselves within your abdomen. It actually moves stored body fat to your belly.
Prolonged elevated levels of cortisol can also lead to problems with high blood pressure, excessive triglycerides and elevated glucose levels. That sets you up for heart disease, diabetes and obesity. While the current trend is to reach for over-the-counter medications that interfere with cortisol's functions, medication isn't the answer because restricting cortisol eventually leads to an inability to handle even small amounts of stress.

Exercise Helps You Manage Stress
Getting your stress under control is possible even if you're going through treatment for mesothelioma or have just discovered you have kidney cancer. While major stressors require immediate attention to avoid weight gain and other physical symptoms associated with stress, exercise is one of the best ways to reduce cancer-related stress and fatigue. When you reduce stress through exercise, you'll sleep better at night, feel better in the morning and have the emotional strength to cope with your cancer diagnosis.
It doesn't do any good to sit around wishing your life were different. Feeling sorry for yourself because the outcome of your breast cancer wasn't positive will just drain your strength and stamina. When you give into your feelings and fall into the grip of depression, it keeps your stress hormones high, magnifies your cancer symptoms and interferes with your quality of life. Moving off the sofa and doing something constructive will help you feel better about yourself and what's happening.
Try to think about doing things you enjoy, rather than focusing on things you have no control over. When you take time to consider what you can learn from your current situation, you open the door for self-confidence, improved overall health and much needed stress relief. That's because the effects of stress are as much about attitude as they are about physical symptoms. When you accept the things in your life you cannot change, managing stress becomes as automatic as waking up each morning to greet a bright, new day.
What You Can Do
There are many ways to manage stress. Keeping a schedule of what you need to do during the day and marking off the items as you do them will help you focus on what you can accomplish, rather than what you can't. In addition, taking good care of yourself is essential. Drinking plenty of water and other fluids, eating well on the days you can and keeping busy throughout the day will help you feel more confident, useful and energized. If you are new to exercise or have fallen into inactivity for a few weeks, you might want to begin with small periods of light activity first.
•           Go for a walk around the neighborhood and wave at any neighbors you see.
•           Visit your local park and watch the children at play.
•           Buy a yoga video and try out a few stretches.
•           Plant a small garden in your backyard and learn how to take care of it.
•           Go swimming in your apartment's pool.
•           Do more barbecuing outside.
The idea is to find ways to become more active and useful at home and in the community. When you involve yourself with what's happening around you and find fun things to do, your life will be more meaningful and your stress will fall to more manageable levels.

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...