Best Exercises/Activities/Yoga Poses For Pancreatic Cysts

In the United States, the use of alternative therapies has increased from 33.8% (in 1990) to 42.1% (in 1997) (1).

Yoga is known to improve both physical and psychological health (1).

Best Exercises, Activities & Yoga Poses For Pancreatic Cysts

Physical activity in the form of exercises and yoga does not only help in the control of diabetes, but improves the health of the pancreas and increases cell survival by decreasing the blood sugar levels, inflammation, and triglyceride levels, in addition to improving beta-cell function. A recent study has highlighted the importance of physical activity, which shows that physical activity helps in the secretion of interleukin 6 (IL-6) in the muscles that increase the survival of pancreatic cells producing insulin(5). Therefore, physical activity protects pancreatic cells from inflammation and elevated triglyceride levels, which is the reason for pancreatitis and in turn pancreatic cysts.

Yoga, not only provides physical benefits in the form of physical exercise, activity, meditation, and breathing exercises, but it also improves the psychological health of an individual by improving mood and decreasing the symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with the stress of the diagnosis of the disease. Additionally, yoga also helps in the management of pain associated with the symptomatic pancreatic cysts or pancreatitis.(1)

Different yoga poses, such as pranayama for breathing control, Sarvangasana, halasana, yoga arm stretches, movements to relax the muscles, and abdominal exercises as tolerated by the patient should be practiced daily.(1), (6)

Other exercises and activities such as walking, resistance training, strength training, balance training, and stretches can be undertaken. It is important to exercise at least 150 minutes/week as tolerated.(7)

It is important not to overstress the body and one should stop exercises if they have vomiting, nausea, severe diarrhea, dizziness or fainting spell while exercising, shortness of breath with minimal exertion, chest pain, fever, chills, and swelling of arms, ankles, face or neck and consult a doctor as soon as possible.(7)

Pancreas – Anatomy & Function

The pancreas is an abdominal, oblong and tapered organ situated in the retroperitoneal (behind the stomach) measuring about 6 inches. It consists of the head, neck, body, and tail. The head portion is situated on the right side in the curve of the duodenal part of the small intestine and the neck and body taper upwards forming a tail that ends on the left side near the spleen.(2)

The pancreas is formed of both exocrine and endocrine glands. The exocrine gland secretes digestive enzymes (pancreatic juice) in the small intestine through a pancreatic duct that helps in the breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.(2)

The endocrine gland is responsible for glucose homeostasis, mainly through insulin (secreted by islets of Langerhan’s beta cells) and glucagon (secreted by alpha cells). Insulin decreases blood glucose levels while glucagon increases blood glucose levels; thus, maintaining glucose homeostasis in the body.(2)

The diseases most commonly associated with the pancreas include pancreatitis, diabetes, and pancreatic cancer(2).

Pancreatic Cysts

Pancreatic cancer is associated with an 8% 5-year survival rate for all stages and is considered one of the deadly cancers as 52% of patients present with metastatic disease at the time of detection. Since there are no tests for the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, it is important to prevent this condition by identifying premalignant lesions, which are pancreatic cystic lesions(3).

The good news is that 80% of the pancreatic cystic lesions are benign or non-neoplastic, which mainly consists of the pseudocyst. The most common neoplastic cystic lesions include Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN), mucinous cystic lesions (MCL), solid pseudopapillary neoplasm (SPN) and serous cystic neoplasm (SCN)(4).

Pseudocysts, the most commonly encountered cysts of the pancreas, mainly occur after an episode of acute pancreatitis or gradually after chronic pancreatitis, which is the result of an insult to the pancreas through chronic alcoholism, trauma to the abdomen, gallstones, and high triglyceride levels(4). Therefore, to prevent the development of pancreatic cysts, it is important to avoid alcohol, gallstones treatment, avoiding trauma to the abdomen, and maintaining triglyceride levels in the blood.

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