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CHOICES - page 23

Fatigue and reduced activity may lessen muscle tone. Less strength and stamina are expected, but it is important to do as much as possible to work your muscles. Without some muscle-toning exercise, you may become dependent on others to help you turn in bed or get up out of a chair. Contractions of the leg muscles pump blood back to the heart, so you may get dizzy when you stand up if your leg muscles are weak.
        As cancer progresses, the body begins to use protein instead of fat for energy, causing muscle wasting and undermining organ functioning.

Palliative measures
        While strenuous, body-building efforts should be avoided, simple exercises may allow a more satisfactory quality of life. Lifting light weights, such as 3-lb. dumbbells or using light-resistance rubber exercise bands may maintain enough muscle strength to keep you independent longer. Gentle range- of-motion exercises for your joints may help you retain mobility.
Walking is good exercise. If fatigue prevents long walks, walk around the

yard. You can go to a park, walk as long as is comfortable, then continue in a wheelchair.(Hospice or your medical insurance may provide a wheelchair that can be transported in the trunks of most cars.) Walks also give you and your caregiver fresh air and a change of scene.
        Consult your doctor or physical therapist about any exercise you do.

Life-style considerations
        Tiredness and prohibitions against strenuous tasks may lead you to accept being waited on. But you and your caregiver should realize that getting up to get your own coffee is good for you, as long as it does not cause pain and as long as you are not severely fatigued.
        While it may be easier and quicker for your caregiver to do such tasks, you will benefit more from doing them when possible. The goal is not to overtax yourself, only to prevent premature loss of the ability to per- form simple tasks. You may not be able to vacuum the entire house, but you may be able to vacuum one room or part of one room.

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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <>.