Exercise: Its Benefit to Cancer Patients

Exercise can be beneficial during and after treatment for cancer patients, both physically and psychologically. Studies have proven that exercise helps not only in hastening recovery, but in addressing the fatigue of chemotherapy, the swelling of lymphedema and the loss of muscle tone.

The World Cancer Research Fund reported that healthier lifestyles and better diets could prevent up to 2.8 million cases of cancer each year. While it can be understandably difficult to engage in strenuous physical activity while undergoing treatment, any activity that you can manage will be beneficial to you. Our doctors encourage you to try light walking, simple stretches or exercise with resistance bands to improve your physical health.

The National Cancer Institute conducted a study in 2008 that analyzed the effects of moderate exercise on groups of breast and prostate cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy for six weeks. Patients that went on walks of increasing distance and exercised with a resistance band daily had less fatigue, greater strength and better aerobic capacity than those who were not instructed to exercise. Other studies indicate that moderate exercise has additional benefits like strengthened immune function and lower rates of recurrence.

There are some facilities that specialize in classes that cater to patients diagnosed with cancer. However, general classes such as yoga, strength training, Pilates and Nia, are usually taught at your local gym and catered to your ability. The important thing to remember is that regardless of the activity, if you remain active and challenge yourself, you can reach any physical goal you set for yourself. Exercise will only help throughout the treatment and recovery stages.

At Southeastern Medical Oncology Center, there are several national clinical trials to encourage and monitor patients’ physical activities during treatment with chemotherapy. In general, making better lifestyle choices as a whole will also help to improve health. Individuals should aim to monitor alcohol intake, have more a nutritional diet and eliminate the use of tobacco products, in addition to incorporating physical activity. For details on what workout regime is right for you, locations of specialized exercise facilities and more information, ask your Southeastern Medical Oncology Center physician on your next visit.

To schedule an appointment, or for more information, call 919-580-0000. You can also schedule an appointment using our easy online appointment request form.