While juggling fatigue, pain, and other challenges, the thought of staying active after being diagnosed with mesothelioma may feel like an unachievable goal.

However, even just a few minutes of walking, stretching, or mindful breathing can have a positive effect on those battling mesothelioma. In fact, doctors recommend some exercises to help the body react more effectively to treatment and recover faster.

“Staying positive and active can really help somebody. It’s sometimes the difference between life and death.”

Dr. Andrea Wolf, Thoracic Surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital

Learn more about the benefits of exercise during cancer treatment and how it can help mesothelioma patients live longer.

Benefits of Exercise During Cancer Treatment

Exercise is associated with overall improved health, and regular activity decreases the risks of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. These benefits are also seen among those fighting cancer.

Can you exercise with mesothelioma?

Yes, you may be able to safely stay active with mesothelioma, even while receiving treatment.

Researchers have found that one of the greatest benefits for mesothelioma patients is that exercise can help boost the immune system to fight cancer and keep your body healthy enough to tolerate mesothelioma treatments.

Other benefits of exercise during cancer treatment include:

  • Better appetite
  • Decreased risk of treatment side effects like fatigue, nausea, and neuropathy (tingling in hands and feet)
  • Healthier sleeping patterns
  • Improved balance and coordination
  • Increased muscle strength and decreased muscle loss
  • Reduced risk of other types of cancer

The endorphins released during exercise can relieve physical pain and reduce stress levels. Exercise also releases “feel-good hormones” like dopamine and serotonin. As a result, many cancer patients experience a boost in overall mood after exercising.

Can Exercise Improve My Mesothelioma Prognosis?

Dr. Lee Jones of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has led clinical trials to see how exercise can improve prognosis.

“Our research found that people with most forms of cancer experienced benefit from exercise in overall survival.”

- Dr. Lee Jones, Chief of the Exercise Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can cause harm to the cardiovascular system and muscular deterioration. This damage can lead to a major decline in a patient’s ability to exercise and perform daily activities.

However, Dr. Jones said patients can reverse these negative effects by participating in carefully planned exercise training programs. These programs also focus on the therapeutic effects of exercise for each patient to prevent cancer recurrence and help treatments work more effectively.

Learn more about mesothelioma prognosis, symptoms, and treatment in our Free Mesothelioma Guide.

6 Safe Exercises for Mesothelioma Patients

There are several exercises that doctors recommend to help mesothelioma patients stay active.

Everyone has different physical abilities, so make sure to consult with your mesothelioma doctor to determine what type of exercise regimen would work best for you.

1. Aerobics

Zumba and other aerobics classes can be a great way to get your body moving. Often done in a class environment with music or other rhythmic elements to help the group move together, aerobic exercise is a great way to engage large muscle groups and maintain good heart health.

2. Cycling

Cycling or stationary biking is a great low-impact exercise that still helps you get good cardio activity, which can improve circulation and reduce inflammation in the body.

Some gyms offer group cycling classes, which can allow you to socialize and improve your emotional well-being.

3. Light Strength Training

Light weight lifting is a great way for patients to improve their muscle strength. This is important for those experiencing decreased muscle strength after receiving chemotherapy.

A common option for light strength training is Pilates, which combines a variety of movements with resistance. It is low-impact but still focuses on engaging important muscles throughout the body.

4. Stretching

Muscle stiffness can impact a person’s ability to sleep, move, and perform daily activities. By incorporating even just 15 minutes of stretching, mesothelioma patients may be able to ease stiffness and improve their mobility and sleep.

5. Walking

As an accessible option for most mesothelioma patients, walking is a great way to improve circulation by lightly increasing heart rate. It can also help joints and muscles feel less tight.

Going for a walk in the neighborhood also exposes patients to sun, fresh air, and other people, helping them improve their mood and stay connected socially.

6. Yoga

Yoga is often considered an alternative therapy for mesothelioma. With various movements and accommodations, yoga can be an accessible activity for mesothelioma patients at varying fitness levels.

It combines stretching with mindful deep breathing, which both work to alleviate pain and stiffness. Practicing yoga can also help people process heavy emotions, making them feel more present and less stressed afterward.

Take Time to Recover After Exercise

Exercising can help mesothelioma patients feel accomplished, engaged, and hopeful, but it’s also important to remember that your body is going through a lot during cancer treatment. Listen to your body and rest when you need it.

Be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day and drink plenty of water during physical exercise. Fuel your body with proper nutrition to promote recovery.

Working out with someone else can also boost your mood and encourage you to keep going. Call a friend or a family member to join you during your next exercise session.

It’s okay if you are frustrated and feel like you do not have the energy to exercise on some days. Take it one day at a time, even if it feels like baby steps.

Getting the Help You Need During Your Cancer Treatment

If you or someone you love was diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and sad. Staying active is just one way to work through those complicated feelings, and it may even have survival benefits for those fighting mesothelioma.

At Mesothelioma Hope, we are dedicated to providing patients and their families with personalized medical, financial, and support resources. You don’t have to go on this journey alone.

Learn about mesothelioma treatments and other ways to improve your prognosis in our Free Mesothelioma Guide or contact our Patient Advocates at (866) 608-8933 to get help now.

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Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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References
  1. American Society of Clinical Oncology. Exercise during cancer treatment. (2020, May 15). Exercise during cancer treatment. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.cancer.net/survivorship/healthy-living/exercise-during-cancer-treatment
  2. Association for Applied Sport Psychology. (n.d.). Psychological benefits of exercise. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://appliedsportpsych.org/resources/health-fitness-resources/psychological-benefits-of-exercise/
  3. Collins, R. (2017, July 25). Exercise, depression, and the brain. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/exercise
  4. Fisher, S., Peddle-McIntyre, C., Burton, K., Newton, R., Marcq, E., Lake, R., & Nowak, A. (2020, September 15). Voluntary exercise in mesothelioma: Effects on tumour growth and treatment response in a murine model. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7493394/
  5. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. (2023, September 15). Does Exercise Improve Survival After a Cancer Diagnosis? An Encouraging New Study. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.mskcc.org/news/does-exercise-improve-survival-after-cancer-diagnosis-encouraging-new-study

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