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How to manage cancer fatigue

exercise1The biologic effects of cancer and/or the side effects of its treatment leave more than 90 percent of patients overwhelmed by fatigue, so much so that everyday life activities become a struggle.

As counterintuitive as it may sound, exercise may be the answer, says Cassi Terpening, a doctor of physical therapy who oversees Upstate‘s Cancer Rehabilitation Program. “Moderate intensity exercise performed most days of the week can decrease a person‘s level of fatigue,” she says.

Of course the type and duration of exercise is dictated by the person‘s previous activity level and his or her goals. Walking, gentle biking, swimming and light strengthening moves are typical. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training two to three times a week and moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise three to five days a week for 15 to 40 minutes, as tolerated and not to exhaustion.

Terpening says most people feel better after exercising. They sleep better. Their pain is lessened. They mood is boosted. And they function better. “When they see the progress -- and it doesn‘t happen immediately -- but when they see that change, I think it has a positive effect.”

Join the program with a doctor‘s referral by calling 315-464-6543. Physical therapy is offered at offices in East Syracuse, Manlius and Syracuse.

Listen to the interview with Terpening.