Brightening Your Day: How Outdoor Exercise Benefits Cancer Patients

Regular exercise and eating right are two hallmarks of life, especially when a person is dealing with a cancer diagnosis. The dietary aspect may be easy to achieve, but the exercise is a lot more elusive. Going to the gym is always an option, but there may be drawbacks to indoor workouts. As cancer patients look for healthy options, they should take outdoor workouts very seriously. In fact, these workouts may be better for cancer patients than any other type.

Vitamin D Exposure

The human body doesn’t generate vitamin D. It must be received from external sources. Cancer patients might drink fortified milk or juices, but the body absorbs vitamin D with ease when it’s received through sunlight exposure. Outdoor activity for only 10 or 15 minutes exposes the patient to enough vitamin D for the day. This nutrient improves bone health and other functions. It allows the body to absorb other nutrients without any hindrances.

Aim for 150 minutes of activity each week. The majority of that time can be spent in the outdoors where vitamin D is ample when the sun is out.

The Oxygen Factor

Being outdoors means that cancer patients are around plants. While humans absorb oxygen and expel carbon dioxide, plants perform the exact opposite function. Patients who walk or jog through a tree-lined area will feel extra oxygen permeating their lungs and skin. For patients dealing with terminal cancers (i.e. mesothelioma), the extra oxygen is particularly important.

Consider the air being breathed in at a standard gym. There are many germs and allergens floating around an indoor location. Lung-cancer patients may actually feel worse in these conditions. The fresh, outdoor air has only a fraction of the allergens found in indoor spaces so that patients feel invigorated instead of frustrated with their exercises.

Removing the Blinders

According to Science Daily, people feel revitalized when they head outdoors. Driving around town to different appointments each day doesn’t allow anyone to really see and interact with the world. Take a walk outdoors, and the blinders are taken off of the patient’s eyes. They can clear their minds, feel the breeze in their hair and notice the world around them. There’s no need to hurry or ignore nearby features. Enjoy plants and animals as they are in nature. Patients’ blood pressure and overall well-being will improve.

Exercise Without Realization

The American Cancer Society reports that cancer can have a tough time of recurring when exercise is a regular part of life. The outdoors is constantly changing. It has something different to offer a person each day. Patients who commit to a daily walk may not notice that they’re working out longer and harder than last week. Enjoying the process takes the work out of exercise so that it’s always an activity to look forward to each day.

A clever trick to keep patients motivated about their workouts is partnering with a loved one. Working out with a like-minded individual makes the process fun, which encourages patients to keep up the hard work. With cancer prognoses improving with a healthy lifestyle, outdoor exercise should be prioritized at any age.

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