The National Cancer Institute released an article concerning this regard. They say, “exercise has many biological effects on the body, some of which have been proposed to explain associations with specific cancers. These include:
- Lowering the levels of sex hormones, such as estrogen, and growth factors that have been associated with cancer development and progression
- Preventing high blood levels of insulin, which has been linked to cancer development and progression
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving immune system function
- Altering the metabolism of bile acids, decreasing exposure of the gastrointestinal tract to these suspected carcinogens
- Reducing the time it takes for food to travel through the digestive system, which decreases gastrointestinal tract exposure to possible carcinogens
- Helping to prevent obesity, which is a risk factor for many cancers”
Is Physical Activity Beneficial to Cancer Patients/Survivors?
Yes. In a report titled, Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors, KL Campbell et al. explains, “that exercise training and testing are generally safe for cancer survivors and that every survivor should maintain some level of physical activity.” In addition, the report also mentions:
- Strong evidence that moderate-intensity aerobic training and/or resistance exercise during and after cancer treatment can reduce anxiety, depressive symptoms, and fatigue and improve health-related quality of life and physical function.
- Strong evidence that exercise training is safe in persons who have or might develop breast-cancer-related lymphedema.
- Some evidence that exercise is beneficial for bone health and sleep quality.
- And, findings have raised the possibility that physical activity may have beneficial effects on survival for patients with breast, colorectal, and/or prostate cancer.
In another article published by the American Cancer Society, titled Physical Activity and the Person with Cancer, the opening two paragraphs state,
“Research shows that for most people exercise is safe and helpful before, during, and after cancer treatment. It can help improve your quality of life as well as the energy you have to do the things you like. Physical activity may also help you cope with side effects of treatment and possibly decrease your risk of new cancers in the future.
Too much time spent resting or sitting can cause loss of body function, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion. Many cancer care teams are urging their patients to be as physically active as possible before, during and after cancer treatment.”
The American Cancer Society’s Physical Activity Recommendations for Cancer Survivors
- Avoid inactivity, as best as possible, and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible after diagnosis and treatment(s).
- Regularly participate in physical activity
- Start slowly, build up the amount of physical activity progressively over time.
- The weekly goal for physical activity to build up to is 150 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.
- To achieve this, exercise several times a week, for at least 10 minutes at a time.
- Include two days of resistance training per week.
- Also, do stretching exercises at least two days per week.
Again, too much time spent resting or sitting can cause loss of body function, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion. It is understandable, especially for cancer patients going through treatment, oftentimes one may not feel like exercising. But, most would be amazed at how much better 10 minutes of simple exercise can make one feel, no matter the situation.
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- Physical Activity and Cancer Fact Sheet
- Campbell KL, Winters-Stone KM, Wiskemann J, et al. Exercise guidelines for cancer survivors: Consensus statement from International Multidisciplinary Roundtable. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2019; 51(11):2375-2390. [PubMed Abstract]
- Physical Activity and the Person with Cancer – American Cancer Society