DAILY light to medium exercise is of significant benefit to cancer patients.
Studies show a 25%–48% decreased risk of death from all causes.
If you’re a cancer patient, it’s important to take special care of yourself. Studies show that one of the best ways to do this is to stay physically active.
Moderate aerobic exercise, such as taking a daily walk, coupled with the use of light weights for strength training, can enhance physical well-being , speed recovery and contribute to prolonged survival. It also elevates mood, offering drug-free relief for the feelings of depression that may accompany a cancer diagnosis.
Yoga has been shown to reduce stress hormone cortisol levels enormously, and Tai Chi and Qigong also have significant benefits for minimal effort.
Being physically active after a cancer diagnosis is linked to better cancer-specific outcomes (Recurrence, progression, and survival) for several cancer types (study).
One prospective observational study of 933 women with local or regional breast cancer found that any moderate-intensity exercise after diagnosis, such as brisk walking, reduced mortality risk by 64% compared to inactive women.
This systematic review of a number of studies involving 68,000 cancer patients found that superior levels of exercise following a cancer diagnosis were associated with a
28%–44% reduced risk of cancer-specific mortality,
21%–35% lower risk of cancer recurrence,
25%–48% decreased risk of all-cause mortality.
The Effects of Physical Exercise on the Immune System
Physical exercise has numerous effects on the human body, including the immune system. After strenuous exercise, athletes pass through a period of impaired immune resistance. During this period, athletes are theoretically more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections, although a causal relation has never been demonstrated. Moderate exercise seems to have a beneficial effect on the immune function, which could protect against upper respiratory tract infections.
Not exercising worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease
A new study published in 2018 found that a sedentary lifestyle is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease. Researchers retrospectively studied 122,007 patients who underwent exercise treadmill testing at Cleveland Clinic between 1991 and 2014 to measure all-cause mortality relating to the benefits of exercise and fitness.
Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and senior author of the study, called the results “extremely surprising”. He said researchers must now convey the risks to the general population that “being unfit should be considered as strong of a risk factor as hypertension, diabetes and smoking – if not stronger than all of them.”
Extreme aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest survival and was notably beneficial in older patients and those with hypertension.
Breast Cancer and Exercise
Breast cancer: Consistent evidence from epidemiologic studies links physical activity after diagnosis with better breast cancer outcomes. For example,
A large cohort study found that women who exercised moderately (the equivalent of walking 3 to 5 hours per week at an average pace) after a breast cancer diagnosis had approximately 40% to 50% lower risks of breast cancer recurrence, death from breast cancer, and death from any cause compared with more sedentary women. The potential physical activity benefit with regard to death from breast cancer was most apparent in women with hormone receptor–positive tumors.
Exercise, following the diagnosis of breast cancer, has also been shown to improve survival and disease outcomes in this study, this study, this study, this study, this study, this study and this study.
A meta-analysis that included over 12,000 women reported that all levels of physical activity occurring post-diagnosis reduced breast cancer mortality by approximately 30% for overweight women and decreased all-cause mortality by 41%, regardless of weight. This is further supported by a recent meta-analysis that concluded that physical activity performed after diagnosis is related to a 24% reduction in mortality among breast cancer survivors.
One prospective observational study of 933 women with local or regional breast cancer found that any moderate-intensity exercise after diagnosis, such as brisk walking, reduced mortality risk by 64% compared to inactive women. Exercise of the same intensity for 2.5 hours per week was associated with a mortality reduction of 67% compared to inactive women.
Another prospective cohort study found that women who had breast cancer and who engaged in recreational physical activity roughly equivalent to walking at an average pace of 2 to 2.9 mph for 1 hour per week had a 35% to 49% lower risk of death from breast cancer compared with women who engaged in less physical activity.
Generally, a decreased risk of 40% to 67% was observed across studies (study, study, study) A meta-analysis of six studies, covering 12,108 patients, found that post diagnosis exercise was associated with a 34% lower risk of breast cancer–related deaths, a 41% lower risk of all-cause mortality, and a 24% lower risk of breast cancer recurrence.
Colorectal Cancer and Exercise
Evidence from multiple epidemiologic studies suggests that physical activity after a colorectal cancer diagnosis is associated with reduced risks of dying from colorectal cancer.
In a large prospective cohort of patients (study) with colorectal cancer, those who engaged in leisure-time physical activity had a 31% lower risk of death than those who did not, independent of their leisure-time physical activity before diagnosis.
Several large cohort studies (study, study, study, study) in colorectal cancer survivors document…survival advantages and reduced recurrence risk in patients who engaged in physical activity after diagnosis, with improvements of up to 50%.
This study shows that whereas levels of pre-diagnosis physical activity were not related to survival, participants with higher levels of physical activity post–diagnosis were less likely to have a cancer recurrence and had increased survival.
Prostate cancer and Exercise
Limited evidence from a few epidemiologic studies has suggested a possible link between physical activity and better outcomes among men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
In one study, men with nonmetastatic prostate cancer who engaged in vigorous activity for at least 3 hours per week had a 61% lower risk of death from prostate cancer compared with men who engaged in vigorous activity for less than 1 hour per week.
Another study of men with localized prostate cancer found that higher levels of physical activity were associated with reduced overall and prostate cancer–specific mortality.
Most strikingly, however, evidence from the past several years suggests that physical activity is not only safe in patients already diagnosed with cancer, but also that it may decrease the risk of recurrence and extend survival.
Before you exercise during treatment
Always talk with your doctor before you start an exercise program during or after cancer treatment. While exercise is proven to be safe during different types of cancer treatment, your ability to exercise and the types of exercises you can do depends on:
- The type of cancer you have
- The treatments being used
- The side effects that you are experiencing
- Your level of fitness
- Your other health problems
If you were physically active before treatment, you may not be able to follow the same exercise routine as before. After treatment, it will take time to return to your pre-cancer fitness level. Ask your doctor to recommend a qualified cancer exercise specialist who can design the best exercise program for your unique situation. You may be able to follow the plan independently. Or you may need to work with the exercise specialist for some time.
Other benefits of exercise
Research (this systematic review and this study) indicates that physical activity may have beneficial effects for cancer survivorship – specifically, weight gain, quality of life, cancer recurrence or progression, and prognosis (likelihood of survival). Most of the evidence (study) for the potential benefits of physical activity in cancer survivors comes from people diagnosed with breast, prostate, or colorectal cancer.
- Weight gain. Both reduced physical activity and the side effects of cancer treatment can contribute to weight gain after a cancer diagnosis. In a cohort study (a type of epidemiologic study), weight gain after breast cancer diagnosis was linked to worse survival. In a 2012 meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials examining physical activity in cancer survivors, physical activity was found to reduce both body mass index and body weight.
- Quality of life. A 2012 Cochrane Collaboration systematic review of controlled clinical trials of exercise interventions in cancer survivors indicated that physical activity may have beneficial effects on overall health-related quality of life and on specific quality-of-life issues, including:
→ body image/self-esteem,
→ emotional well-being,
→ sleep disturbance,
→ social functioning,
In a 2012 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials examining physical activity in cancer survivors, physical activity was found to reduce:
and to improve
Anxiety and depression
As well as being distressing, anxiety and depression have been linked to reduced survival following radical cancer treatments. Of note, a large prospective cohort study from California reported that 4.6% of 41 000 men, who were clinically depressed after prostate cancer diagnosis, had a 25% reduction in disease-specific survival compared with non-depressed men.
In conclusion, clinical studies suggest a significant benefit for regular exercise after cancer for improving well-being and disease outcomes.
Walk barefoot for added benefits.
What Is Grounding?
Grounding (or Earthing) is the act of walking barefoot on the beach or on grass. It results in free electrons being transferred from the earth into your body, and this grounding effect is one of the most potent antioxidants known to man.
A 2015 study found that grounding appears to
- improve sleep,
- normalize the day–night cortisol rhythm,
- reduce pain,
- reduce stress,
- shift the autonomic nervous system from sympathetic toward parasympathetic activation,
- increase heart rate variability,
- speed wound healing,
- and reduce blood viscosity.