Most people are well aware of the remarkable health benefits of exercise. Many are familiar with the fact that exercise can help prevent many diseases, including cancer.
But something happens after a cancer diagnosis, according to a recent presentation done by the American Society of Clinical Oncology at the Cancer Survivorship Symposium in San Diego.
Researchers find that as many as 75% of cancer patients give up on exercise after their diagnosis. According to surveys, only 4% of patients actually increased their exercise. As little as 16% kept the same level of activity as before their diagnosis.
Living with cancer and dealing with side effects of cancer treatment can be challenging. This makes it difficult to keep a regular exercise program. Motivation to exercise is tough to maintain in the face of these severe circumstances. But does exercise have any benefit after receiving a cancer diagnosis?
The POSITIVE and SIGNIFICANT Effects of Exercise
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 15.5 million children and adults with a history of cancer were alive on January 1, 2016, in the United States. With so many cancer survivors we have much to learn from their experience.
Evidence points to many benefits of physcial activity on cancer patient outcomes. Some of the benefits of exercise during cancer include:
- reduced side effects of cancer
- reduced side effects of cancer treatment
- as much as 40-50% less fatigue and reduced anxiety
- improved sleep
- improved survival rates and recovery from treatment
- improved quality of life and vigor/vitality
- improved mood and self-esteem and less emotional symptoms
- improved sleep
- reduced stress
- improved physical function (better muscle strength, joint flexibility, and general conditioning, all of which can be impaired during some cancer therapy)
- less nausea
- less memory loss
- less labored breathing
- weight control
Research is unraveling specific ways exercise can help with specific cancers. For example, the Nurses’ Health Study, which involved more than 121,000 women, showed a strong link between exercise and better outcomes in colon and breast cancer. Improved survival rates were linked to the effect exercise has on estrogen levels.
How much exercise is recommended?
Does this mean cancer patients need to scale mountains and run marathons? The answer is a reassuring no. The American Society of Clinical Oncology encourages doctors to recommend moderate levels of physical activity to cancer patients. This amounts to at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week.
Some form of regular exercise is better than no exercise at all. Moderate aerobic exercise gets your heart pumping. This could include cycling or a daily walk with light weights (for a boost of strength training).
Reinberg, S. (2017, January 23). Exercise Rates Often Decline After Cancer Diagnosis. Retrieved January 25, 2017, from https://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/mis-cancer-news-102/exercise-rates-often-decline-after-cancer-diagnosis-718947.html\