The benefits of exercise

Many studies have been conducted on the impact of exercise on cancer patients. Research has shown that exercise has postive effects on cancer patients as it increases physical fitness, improves physical functioning and decreases fatigue syndrome.

However, the research on exercise in palliative patients is limited, due to the lack of randomised testing. Current evidence which supports physical activity during palliative care is limited to case reports and uncontrolled trials. Nevertheless, these reports have demonstrated improvement in some supportive care outcomes, post intervention. The role of physical activity as a form of supportive care is promising, but further feasibility studies need to be conducted to substantiate these findings, which will advance this emerging area of research.

The general goal of palliative care is to obtain the best quality of life for

patients and their families. Palliative care exercise is aimed at decreasing both physical and mental fatigue, as well as improving physical performance. These exercises include getting up from a chair, standing, grip strength and improving step lengths. In other words, exercise is aimed at promoting independence in your daily living.

A physiotherapist will assess each patient as an individual, and devise an exercise programme within specified limits. This programme will be closely monitored and is aimed at increasing the amount activities in your daily life. If necessary, family members or care givers will be trained to assist the patient with exercises that he/she cannot perform independently.

Relieve your symptoms

It is important to try to exercise a little, if you are able, even when you are unwell, states NHS. Research has found that exercise may help relieve the symptoms of fatigue. The problem is that while too much exercise might make you tired, the opposite may have the same effect. It’s important to strike the perfect balance. Achieving balance between being active and getting plenty of rest is ideal. Your physiotherapist will be able to advise you about following a suitable routine.

General suggestions for exercise

• Regular, light exercise, such as walking, has been shown to reduce fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and can even help some people sleep better.

• Plan some activity or light exercise into your day.

• If exercise is impossible, try to stay active in your daily routine.

• Pay attention to how your body reacts to exercise: how did you sleep? How did you feel the next day?

• Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.

• Keep a record of your activities to share with your doctor or nurse, so they can help monitor your progress.

• It is important to find a balance between activity and rest, and to exercise in a way that allows the muscles to recover after activity.

Written by Nicole Redman

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