If you or a loved one have experienced a cancer diagnosis, here’s an important finding: Research highlights the positive benefits of physical activity for people living with cancer – not only during treatment but also beyond.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) strongly recommends exercise for people with cancer. The guidelines advise 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and two days per week of moderate-intensity muscle strengthening exercises. The ACSM guidelines follow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
These guidelines are the result of overwhelming research showing that physically active cancer survivors experience improved everyday function and an overall higher quality of life. Studies have shown a number of valuable benefits for patients who exercise regularly, including:
- Less treatment-related fatigue
- A reduced incidence of nausea – by as much as 50 percent
- Higher tolerance to chemotherapy
- Improved sleep
- Decreased risk of osteoporosis
- An overall feeling of well-being
The special benefits of physical activity for cancer treatment
Most of us know the importance of physical activity in keeping ourselves healthy. Regular exercise can strengthen the heart and lungs, prevent obesity, aid in controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, boost bone strength, strengthen the immune system, and improve mood, energy level and overall well-being.
For cancer patients, though, there’s additional good news as research is demonstrating a reduced rate of recurrence by up to 50 percent for breast and colon cancer patients who exercise regularly.
It’s not just physical
In addition to the physical side effects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment, patients often report feelings of isolation, anxiety, depression, and loss of control. Group fitness programs tailored to the needs of cancer patients can help alleviate these issues, by fostering feelings of camaraderie and social connectedness. Group programs not only provide structure and guidance; they also bring people with a common bond together.
Where do I start?
If you are considering physical activity during or after cancer treatment, it is wise first to obtain medical clearance from your doctor. As with any exercise program, each individual needs to look at their current fitness level and exercise history. If you have been inactive, start slowly and gradually build in intensity and frequency. Walking is an excellent choice for many people.
To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.