What might you experience ?
“I don’t feel like moving off the sofa, so the thought of exercise seems unreal”. There are many reasons why:
- Fatigue and a lack of energy
- Reduced mobility
Why does this happen?
Both the cancer itself or side effects from the treatment of cancer can create barriers to exercise.
- Fatigue - The commonest cause of fatigue in cancer patients is anaemia. Sufferers have a reduced red blood cell count, lowering the amount of oxygen available to the body to create energy therefore you feel tired more easily. Another cause of fatigue can be imbalances in the body’s salt levels or electrolytes. Some cancers and medicines can affect your electrolyte levels making it more difficult for your muscles to function. Also a poor diet or inadequate intae can mean you're body is not getting enough nutrients and energy to be able to exercise well. Poor sleep and sleep deprivation are another well recognised cause of a sluggish mind and body which will exacerbate the feeling of fatigue.
- Pain - Pain often comes from the tumour itself, as it puts pressure on nerves, organs or bones. Chemo, radiation and surgery can also damage tissue and nerves and therefore cause pain
- Reduced mobility -Your mobility is likely to get affected at some stage of treatment - either due to direct damage or pain to limbs or nerves over time, or due to fatigue or muscle loss from reduced activity due to increased time in bed
- Anxiety - Having to deal with changes to your body as a result of your cancer can mean you are unsure what level of activity is suitable for you. Fear of doing more harm by ‘over doing it’ may stop you from exploring safe exercises that can help you feel better in the long run
- Breathlessness - You may find you get breathless more easily. This can be due to cancers in the lungs or airways, fluid around the lungs caused by tumours elsewhere or side effects of treatment for example anaemia, radiotherapy or surgery on your lungs