Exercise for Life
Just as physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of ever getting cancer, research indicates that engaging in exercise as a cancer patient and/or survivor decreases the risk of a recurrence and improves survival. Oncologists agree that one of the best things cancer survivors can do to remain healthy is to get regular exercise. Exercise for Life
The Benefits of Exercise
Studies have found that cancer patients who exercised moderately (three to five hours of normalpace walking a week) had improved emotional well-being and better survival rates than their more sedentary peers.
Being overweight increases the chance that some cancers, such as prostate, colon and breast cancers, will return, and exercise helps control weight gain. In breast cancer, physical activity reduces excess fat cells that produce the high levels of estrogen associated with cancer. Exercise also may inhibit other hormones and growth factors believed to play a role in breast tumor development.
In studies of colon cancer patients, scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston found that patients who routinely exercised lowered their risk for a cancer recurrence and increased by 50 percent their overall chance for survival compared to inactive patients.
In addition to possibly preventing another bout of cancer, physical activity helps protect against heart disease, diabetes, and the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis
Getting the Right Amount
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults get a minimum of 30 minutes of “moderate-intensity physical activity” on five days or more, or at least 20 minutes of “vigorous-intensity activity” on three days or more. In addition to the aerobic component, adults need muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week.
Do not worry if you have never been an athlete; there are many ways to be active. Moderate aerobic activity can encompass anything from brisk walking to square dancing to playing with your grandkids; vigorous activity can be jogging, playing singles tennis, or downhill skiing.
Muscle strengthening—such as lifting weights, using resistance bands, or practicing yoga— should target the body’s major muscle groups, with each movement done until you find it too taxing to do another repetition.
How to Get Started
Solidifying exercise as a lifetime habit is a challenge. However, the period following treatment is an opportune time, since many cancer survivors are looking for new, empowering tools to keep them healthy. You don’t have to do this alone; the key is to get involved with our Cancer Rehabilitation Program. Please call John Malinowski for more information at 805.346.3413. John Malinowski, ATC, CET.