Improved detection of cancer and treatment for cancer has resulted in an increased survival rate (estimated at 15.5 million in the United States). This article discusses the positive effect of exercise in other cancer-related health outcomes such as fatigue, quality of life, physical function, anxiety and depressive symptoms.
The expert panel set forth guidelines for exercise in cancer survivors with the understanding that each person is individual and some may not be able to meet the guidelines, but may still benefit from physical activity. Each type of cancer is different as well as the stage and severity of the cancer and the treatment. Individuals also have different degrees of co-morbidities (other health conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease) and may require medical clearance before starting an exercise program.
Positive effects of exercise:
- Anxiety and depressive symptoms - Moderate intensity aerobic training 3 x per week for 30 minutes or moderate intensity aerobic training 2 x per week plus resistance training can reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in cancer survivors during and after treatment.
- Fatigue – moderate intensity aerobic training 3 x per week or moderate intensity aerobic training plus resistance training 2-3 x per week or moderate intensity resistance training 2-3x per week can reduce fatigue.
- Quality of life – this outcome seemed to benefit most from combined moderate intensity aerobic exercise plus resistance exercise performed 2-3x per week.
- Physical function – moderate intensity aerobic exercise, resistance exercise or combined aerobic and resistance exercise performed 3 x per week can improve physical function.
More research needs to be done on the effects of exercise on:
- Bone health
- Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
- Cognitive function