3 Ways Exercise Can Make Cancer Treatment Go a Little Easier

As a personal trainer over the past 14 years I've had the opportunity to work with several women as they battle breast cancer. While every woman has a different and very personal experience with thedisease, I have found there's some fitness advice that helps in every case.

1. Do not fear your body.

This is #1 because it is a rule and principle that will influence your relationship with your body for life. Very often, when a woman has to deal with something attacking her body, and causing it to act in new, strange, and scary ways, she begins to think this body is not one she knows anymore - and this leads to fear. Therefore, it's natural to want to avoid doing anything physical because you think it might cause even more harm. Be brave. Remember that the human bodyis resilient: Yours is repairing and rebuilding every moment and isinstinctually driven towards healing.

2. Rest and recovery can include physical activity

I'm very careful with the words I use: With women undergoing treatment, I use the words "physical activity" instead of "exercise" or "workout." Why? Because this is a time for assisting your body's healing process and physical activity has been proven by studies to promote immune system function when done at the appropriate intensity. It doesn't mean that this is the time for attempting your fastest 10K; you'll reap many benefits from light to moderate physical activity (check out a few suggestions below). Light to moderate activity is defined as exercising at 50 to 65 percent of your maximum ability. This might be hard to estimate, so I have my clients use a one-to-10 scale where one represents sitting comfortably and 10 represents your hardest physical effort. At any time during an activity, take a quick assessment of the total experience of the activity and rate your perceived exertion on that scale; you should aim for a five or six. In my experience, the most exciting benefits from physical activity are improved body image, increased belief in the ability to conquer the disease, physical resilience, faster recovery, and improved appetite and digestion.

3. Find what you love -- and do it!

This is an important one: Find an activity that you love, one that brings you real pleasure. This is the perfect time to learn a new activity such as dancing,swimming, walking, yoga, or tai chi. All of these activities keep your body moving and inspire the important metabolic and temperature shifts that keep the body circulating and managing interstitial fluids (the circulating solution that supports all body tissues and muscles). This is important because interstitial fluid can collect in the lymph glands and cause lymphedema, a common condition in which the lymph glands get congested. You'll lower your risk for lymphedema if you stay active; the lymph system needs assistance in its flushing mechanism, and physical activity is an ideal tool for doing that.Find an activity that encourages large, full-body movements and that increases the heart rate and body temperature. A little bit of sweat is beneficial too! This will help the body to flush the lymph system, keeping it running smoothly.

Read more cancer treatment tips from Holly Perkins on Intent.com

by Holly Perkins on Intent.com
Holly Perkins, B.S. is a Fitness Expert and Personal Trainer in Los Angeles. Holly holds a degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition from Penn State and has been actively involved in the industry for over 12 years. Holly is a member of NSCA (soon to be CSCS certified), is the newest Celebrity Trainer on ExerciseTV, and is the current fitness model for WeightWatchers.com. Holly's unique approach bridging diet, lifestyle and personalized training has helped celebrities, athletes, moms and even a 2008 Presidential Candidate. Holly can been seen on ExerciseTV.tv and through Time Warner On Demand Programming. Holly is in the process of opening the first of it's kind, LEED certified green gym in Los Angeles.

Read more articles by Holly Perkins on Intent.com