After a diagnosis of mesothelioma, considering cardiovascular exercise can be intimidating because of the effects of this disease on the lungs. Mesothelioma can cause difficulties breathing, lower energy levels, and chest pains, impacting a person’s ability to exercise.
Inactivity is unhealthy for anyone, but particularly for mesothelioma patients. Regular cardiovascular exercise is highly beneficial mentally and physically.
Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise
Mesothelioma patients see numerous benefits from regular cardiovascular exercise. Some of those benefits include:
- A reduction in peripheral neuropathy
- Reduced physical impacts of stress
- Increased physical function
- Better moods and mental health
- Increased energy
- Better appetite
- Strengthening of muscle and bone
- A decrease in shortness of breath
Finding exercises suitable for your strength level while undergoing treatment provides better odds of completing the treatment and reducing the negative effects.
Finding What Works for You
Depending on where you’re at in your treatment journey, it will be essential to schedule your exercise and decide the type of suitable action according to your energy levels. If you are currently in active treatment, gentler activity will keep you moving without overtiring your body. Increasing activity levels as your energy returns allows you to cater activities specifically for your needs.
Before beginning any cardiovascular activities, speaking with a cardiac specialist or your mesothelioma treatment team is essential to understand what cardiovascular exercises are appropriate and how to reduce the risk of injuries.
Abstain From Intense Exercise
Intense, high-impact exercise should be avoided because of its association with increased breathlessness, energy depletion, and suppression of the immune system. Intense strength training may not be optimal because of mesothelioma’s ability to compromise the tissue in the chest area.
The goal of exercise is not to aggravate the areas affected by the disease but to strengthen the heart and lungs. These benefits can be accomplished with regular low-impact exercise.
Low Impact Exercise
Low-impact cardiovascular exercises should be safe unless advised against by a physician for individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma and provide a boost in energy and improve quality of life and heart health. Integrating these activities into daily tasks is simple and can become routine. Some examples of safer low-impact exercises are:
- Swimming, when not undergoing radiation
Also, consider the benefits of movement while performing household chores. Sweeping and vacuuming, laundry tasks, and light lawn and garden maintenance will keep you moving and reduce sedentary behavior. If you are unsure where to begin, find a trainer certified to work with cancer patients and develop an exercise plan designed for your specific needs.
Connecting Mental Health With Heart Health
Poor mental health is often overlooked in discussions of heart health. But mental health challenges such as stress, depression, and high anxiety are common contributors to cardiovascular issues. Unchecked stress keeps the body in a fight or flight response and dramatically increases cortisol levels. Chronic high levels of stress have been associated with:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
Receiving a life-altering diagnosis like mesothelioma is undoubtedly a stressful event. But controlling that stress through approved cardiovascular exercise will keep your heart healthy and dramatically improve your mental state.
Create a Routine
Most humans thrive from routine. Setting a routine time to exercise will increase your chances of continuing these healthy activities. Setting yourself up for success through small reminders can help you achieve your cardiovascular goals.
- Place your walking shoes in an obvious location
- Layout your exercise clothes
- Plan a meetup with a friend and exercise together
- Set a reminder on your phone
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Cardiovascular exercise can aid in weight maintenance which is critical for heart health. You may experience periods of low appetite while undergoing treatment. Finding whole foods that fuel your body will aid in muscle support, fuel energy stores, and keep your body functioning optimally and ready to engage in beneficial cardiovascular exercises for heart health.