Many studies over recent years have shown a positive response between exercise and the prevention of cancer. This is due in part to the fact that cancer cells, unlike healthy cells, thrive in an anaerobic environment so all that aerobic exercise ‘they’ keep recommending helps create an inhospitable environment for the disease.
How do we best oxygenate the blood to make the body’s environment hostile to disease? The best way, of course, is to maintain a steady aerobic exercise program while feeding our bodies nutrition packed foods – more info in future posts – to promote strong red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout the body.
Steady exercise is the important point here as studies have shown that it is the regularity of the exercise, as with any complementary program, be it stress reduction, supplementation, whatever, and not the strenuousness that is key. Twenty to thirty minutes of walking, cycling, dancing, jogging, golf (OK, maybe getting pissed off at that little white ball could be considered stress inducing and counterproductive) or whatever gets you going, is recommended daily to start. If you can increase the length of time to an hour as you become more fit, that’s terrific.
In fact over-exercise can be harmful too because, according the NIH (National Institutes of Health) can decrease white blood cells that fight the body’s invaders and can set up an inflammatory response which we do not want and will discuss why next time.
But disease of any kind along with treatment often robs the body of the exertion/energy necessary to exercise. One idea that I found useful while on chemo is the breath-work recommended and described by Dr. Andrew Weil, of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
Poor breathing can limit metabolism and the amount of energy available for healing. – Andrew Weil
Dr. Weil offers excellent techniques for improving the effectiveness of breath – did you know that most of us exhale about one-third as much time as we inhale? If we increase exhalation, we can improve inhalation too. The more we empty our lungs, the greater the amount of air we can inhale and the more even and relaxed our breathing becomes, in turn increasing the amount of oxygen supplied to our bodies. Weil’s breath-work covers this aspect of breathing as well as energizing and relaxation breath techniques.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) also promotes an easy strength training program called Growing Stronger. Primarily for older adults, the program includes exercises suitable for those whose energy is compromised for whatever reason. Yet strength training is important to incorporate even during chemo- check with your doctor first – as it causes muscles to use up excess hormones in the blood rather than the cancer cells using them for growth purposes.
I really like the wall push-ups since I can never seem to do a real push-up and can do ten of these whenever I find some blank wall space.
While cancer eats up sugar, it also rejects oxygen as its primary source of energy and respiration. The major difference between healthy cells and malignant cells is that cancerous cells have mutated so that their primary energy supply is the fermentation of sugar. (There’s that sugar connection again.) Yet our bodies still need an adequate supply of glucose for healthy cells to thrive. What we want to stop is the spiking of glucose levels and increased insulin response. Exercise helps here too along with detection of hidden sugars in convenience foods so balance can be maintained in our bodies.
Balance or homeostasis is key to optimal body function which in turn allows the body to help heal.
What does this mean for us? Well, the very good news is that primary research established in 1931 by Noble Laureate Otto Warburg in his ground breaking studies of enzymes and the aerobic respiration of healthy cells, explains why exercise is such a useful tool preventing disease, recurrence and aiding treatment response.
Cancer, above all other diseases, has countless secondary causes. But, even for cancer, there is only one prime cause. Summarized in a few words, the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar. All normal body cells meet their energy needs by respiration of oxygen, whereas cancer cells meet their energy needs in great part by fermentation. - Warburg, August 1966
Warburg’s observations have been the basis for countless studies and increased understanding of the biochemistry of malignancy. Any new understanding leads to new treatments and prevention protocols; knowledge is power, the power to help your own healing – my primary mission.
So try these ideas and incorporate exercise into your recovery and prevention program. Be sure to check with your doctor in case there is some underlying reason why these techniques may prove harmful in your situation – surgery, heart involvement are just a few reasons to abstain from exertion.
AND ALWAYS, remember that these are complementary healing ideas. No diet or exercise program should ever be considered a replacement for the therapies your doctor recommends, and if any ‘expert’ tells you that his/her ‘treatments’ must exclude standard medical protocols, do not walk, RUN away from them ASAP. (I am in peril of sounding like those hideous drugs ads that go on forever with all those crazy warnings – ah, well – warnings are necessary.)
So – get up and take a deep breath and know that you are one breath closer to a healthier you. Again, I hope this helps even just a little. Bless you all.