This guest post, The Importance of Fitness When You Have a Chronic Illness,  is by Melanie Bowen a regular contributor for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

When your doctor announced that you had a chronic illness, you likely were terrified. Maybe you knew it was coming, but still hoped for the best. Perhaps the announcement caught you off guard. Regardless of how you felt, you likely also understood that a terminal illness or rare disease, such as mesothelioma or to treatable cancers like skin cancer, doesn’t mean you aren’t able to set yourself on the right path to healing.

Take steps to continue living a stress-free, relaxed lifestyle that you find enjoyable and pleasant. One way you can continue to live a happy life and relax despite your diagnosis is to engage in regular exercise. Regular exercise, in conjunction with more traditional treatment options, can help you relax and feel better about your life.

Traditional treatment options can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Even if you feel mentally prepared for your illness and ready to take on the battle, fitness can help increase your energy levels and improve your overall well-being. Even if you only engage in moderate exercise a few days each week, getting active and up and moving can truly help you physically, mentally, and even spiritually.

If you have several friends from a support group or people you know from the hospital, consider grabbing them and engaging in several short walks each week. A walk is not only a slow paced, moderate exercise that can help tone your body and help lower your blood pressure, but also gives you a special and relaxing way to spend time with your friends and loved ones. Walking is also one of the cheapest, easiest ways to exercise since you can do it anywhere. Whether you want to go on a walk around your neighborhood or meet up at the mall for a few laps before the stores open, walk at your own pace and take your time. If you begin to feel tired or winded, don’t get upset or overwhelmed. Just take a break and try again another day when you feel better.

If you have any questions or concerns about engaging in exercise despite your diagnosis, meet up with your doctor for a chat about the importance and value of fitness. She can likely recommend some at home exercises that you can do, especially if you aren’t comfortable exercising around other people.

“Melanie Bowen is an awareness advocate for natural health and holistic therapies for cancer patients. You will often find her highlighting the great benefits of different nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those with illness in her efforts to increase attentiveness and responsiveness on like topics”