Yoga has so many proven health benefits. This ancient practice uses movements, poses, breathing, and mindfulness to improve physical and mental well-being. Anyone can benefit from yoga, including the sickest among us. There was a time when patients with cancer, like mesothelioma or colon cancer, would be told to rest only. Now, we know that some physical activity is beneficial, even if it is light and modified for the physical limitations of the individual. One type of activity that provides numerous benefits for cancer patients is yoga.
How Yoga Helps Patients with Cancer
Therapeutic yoga can provide a number of benefits for people living with the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatments and medications used to fight it. Yoga cannot provide a cure for cancer and should be used in conjunction with traditional treatment. When it is used along with medical care, yoga can help patients feel better, cope better with being sick, and enjoy life more:
- Yoga relieves stress and boost mood. Cancer patients live with symptoms that are more than just physical. The stress of living under the looming diagnosis of cancer can be great, but yoga can help. Researchers found that people practicing yoga regularly experienced a reduction in overall stress. This was accompanied by a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol. Participants also report having a better overall mood with less depression and less anxiety.
- Practicing yoga reduces pain. Trained yoga instructors and experts can instruct a patient to use poses and breathing exercise to minimize specific types of pain. Research has also found that practicing yoga generally helps to increase a person’s tolerance to pain. For a patient with cancer, pain becomes a way of life, but yoga can help build up a better tolerance to it and reduce the need to take prescription painkillers.
- Yoga provides energy and limits fatigue. With cancer, fatigue is a common side effect. It may be caused by the cancer itself, but most often the fatigue comes from chemotherapy and other treatments. To help battle that fatigue, patients can try practicing yoga. It has been proven to reduce fatigue,specifically in cancer patients as compared to those patients who do not use yoga.
- Yoga improves quality of life. The quality of life for a patient living with cancer tends to deteriorate with the physical discomfort, the limitation in activities and social life, and the emotional distress caused by a cancer diagnosis. Yoga gives a patient focus, goals to achieve, greater physical comfort, the ability to connect with others in a social setting, more energy, and so many other benefits that make life better, in spite of having cancer.
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