HOW EXERCISE CAN HEAL; Research Shows That Regular Workouts Help You Recover from Life-Threatening Diseases. Not Only Can Achievements in Sport Bring Physical Improvement but They Also Aid in the Mental Battle for Health

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I keep cancer at bay by running

DR BEN EDWARDS, 29, right, lives on the Wirral and works as a sports scientist at John Moores University in Liverpool. He has had four cancer scares since the age of 16, when he discovered a lump on one testicle.

Since then he has had three further growths removed, including one from his right pectoral muscle. He has run 250 marathons and he helps train other runners. He says: WHEN I found the first lump it was very frightening, because I was young and my grandmother was already suffering from cancer.

I'd always loved sport, as most teenage boys do, so it was only a matter of time before I found out how much it could help.

I knew it made you physically stronger, but I didn't realise what a big effect it would have on my immune system and mind.

When I'm exercising, I can put aside the small things that get me down.

Running calms me, makes me more tolerant and helps me sort out problems.

About five miles into a ten-mile run, I'll find that I have dropped all the nonsense that has worried me during the week.

I start sifting through the niggles and work out how to deal with problems.

I normally run for an hour-and-a-half every other day.

But when I'm training I'll do at least two hours a day, go to the gym three times a week, and go swimming and cycling twice.

A couple of times a month I'll do a 55-mile run. It's a lot, but I love training.

I know a lot of people take up exercise as a way of coping with illness or personal loss.

They're able to put aside feelings of grief for a short time while training.

I find exercise gives me time off from thinking about my health and improves my positivity and confidence.

My other big driving force is the fact that I'm exercising on behalf of a charity, Cancer Research UK, which is very close to home for me.

A marathon gave me the will to beat diabetes

CLAIRE DUNCAN, 32, below, is a freelance musician from South London. She was diagnosed with diabetes just after leaving college nine years ago. The doctor told her that keeping fit would help fight her disease, so she started jogging.

She says:

THE biggest worry for diabetics is that they will have a hypoglycaemic attack (caused by low blood sugar).

It can happen very easily - you could be hurrying for a bus and use up more energy than you've taken in.

So we have to eat the same amount of food at the same time every day to avoid this.

It's very daunting when you first find out that your life is going to have to be so structured.

That's why exercising has worked for me on so many different levels. It has given me confidence and helped me work out how far I can push myself and how much energy I need in different situations.

I am much more aware of how my body copes with certain foods and temperatures, or how it uses energy when I'm tired.

You've got to test your body to know what it can deal with. When I was first diagnosed, I was injecting insulin three times a day which meant eating regular meals.

Later, I changed to a faster-acting insulin programme, which means that I inject however much insulin I need when I eat.

I keep a bottle of Lucozade in my handbag, so if I eat something that doesn't agree with me I can put it right.

Exercise has given me the confidence to do this because I now understand how my body reacts in different conditions.

I started off running with a friend for half an hour and learned to balance my insulin injections with the level of activity I was doing.

I focused on increasing the distance and built up to a tenmile run.

Eighteen months later I ran the London Marathon for the British Diabetic Association. …