Most cancer fighters and survivors describe the moment when the doctor delivered the difficult news of being diagnosed with cancer to them as the hardest moment of their lives. It is a moment completely devoid of hope and one in which the mind can imagine only the negatives. For many, it may feel like the end of a battle.
But what many people don’t imagine is that being diagnosed with cancer is not an end in itself. It is the beginning of a long journey. One does not have to resort to a life of staying indoors and not participating in outdoor activities simply because they are recovering. This is true as nature and exercise have been scientifically linked with an improved sense of well-being in cancer patients.
Being Active Can Help Fight Cancer
According to doctors and scientific research, being active is one of the most effective ways to help the body’s immune system fight cancer. Doctors recommend that physical activity be incorporated as part of cancer treatment for any stage of cancer. It helps lower body mass index, increase levels of energy in recovering patients, and reduce the negative impacts of chemotherapy. It also helps in the healing process after surgery, along with delivering the usual health benefits such as reduced blood pressure and cholesterol. Another important benefit of exercise for cancer patients is that it releases dopamine and serotonin. These are hormones that help alleviate depression and general low spirits associated with the disease.
How to Start Being Active
If you have been fighting cancer, integrating physical activity, no matter how light, might help you feel physically and mentally stronger. Start by going on short walks along scenic routes. Depending on how your body feels, switch it up with jogging, running, cycling, or swimming. You can also start by lifting weights and pushing your body according to your comfort level and doctor’s advice.
The Benefits of Wilderness Exposure
According to researchers, spending time in the wilderness can help alleviate stress. One of the largest studies on this was conducted using a survey population of 20,000 people and was published recently. It states that spending an average of two hours a week immersed in nature is linked with improved happiness and lower stress in the survey population. They did not only become happier, but they also achieved better health. Many cancer survivors report that being in nature fills them with a sense of peace. It helps take their mind off intrusive thoughts and recalibrate their sense of being in tune with the universe. Nature serves a meditative purpose and invokes a primal response in human beings.
Start by going on strolls to your neighborhood park or green space. If you feel comfortable, expand your reach to hikes and overnight camping trips on nearby camping grounds. If you want a challenge or wish to really immerse yourself in nature, there are cancer camps for survivors of all ages, where you can go on outdoor expeditions with people at similar points in their lives. These are often free and can double as a support group, often helping people form lasting friendships. Many who participate come back as volunteers as it makes them feel like they are giving back to the community.
Being close and connected to nature is a recommended lifestyle for everyone, not just those diagnosed with cancer. It can contribute to an overall improved quality of life. Whether you are recuperating from a difficult illness or not, make some time out of your busy schedule to get in touch with nature.