Yoga does more than reduce stress during treatment

February 15, 2018 | by Alexander Hantel, M.D.

Your body was built to move. It’s how you were made. That’s why it’s so important for your health to keep moving — even during cancer treatment.

Newer research has shown that exercise has many benefits during and after treatment. This doesn’t mean you need to hop on a treadmill and train for a 5K. There are less intensive whole body exercises that you can implement into your lifestyle to help improve your mind, body and spirit.

Yoga is a great example. Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation. Poses are designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress.

Research shows that practicing yoga during cancer treatment has several benefits.Yoga can help boost your mood, improve balance and blood flow. It can also help control physical functions like blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, metabolism and body temperature.

Yoga can also:

  • Reduce depression and anxiety
  • Fight fatigue and discomfort
  • Strengthen and relax your body and immune system
  • Improve your quality of life

Yoga does more than stimulate muscles, it increases blood flow and enhances the lymphatic flow in the body, all which help clear out toxins from treatment. The deep, relaxing breathing emphasized in yoga increases the current of oxygen-rich blood to the cells, delivering vital nutrients to tired cells and further clearing out toxins.

A recent University of Rochester study surveyed why a group of about 300 cancer patients felt less fatigued following a yoga class. Researchers found patients who practiced yoga slept less, but also had less fatigue, in part because they cut down on daytime napping. The result of this study was a 37 percent reduction in “daytime dysfunction.”

Another study found that practicing a seven-week yoga routine was able to reduce the likelihood of developing “mood disturbance” by up to 65 percent of patients.

If you are unfamiliar with yoga, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can recommend a program or activity that is right for you.

If you incorporate yoga into your routine, you may find yourself feeling at ease, with a clearer mind and more energy.

Want to try yoga? Join us at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 17 for an Introduction to Yoga class at Elmhurst Hospital. We will explore the history of yoga, fundamental elements, benefits, equipment and demonstration of basic poses. This Wellness House program is offered at no cost to people directly impacted by cancer. To register, call 630-527-6363 or register online now.

Related blogs:

Why and how to stay active during treatment

How exercise keeps you from falling

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