Moving more

Physical activity has a lot of health benefits. Whether it is run, walk, participation in outdoor sports, a workout at a gym, swimming, cycling, or any activity that allows you to move more keeps your mind, body, and spirit in great condition. Finding an activity that you enjoy helps keep you motivated while you exercise. With people increasing stuck to their desks, have a regimen that allows you to work your body can help counter the ills of prolonged sitting. Remember, human beings are biologically designed to move around. A sedentary lifestyle is bound to bring sickness and diseases with it.

Exercise and cancer

For Cancer patients, it is important to include some amount of physical activity in their daily schedule. If you were physically active before being diagnosed with Cancer, then you might have to make some adjustments to your exercise regime. Talk to your doctor and understand the amount of physical strain you can put your body through. Even if you start by walking for 10 minutes every day, the benefits can be noticeable. Your goal should be to stay as much physically active as possible.

  • In 2014, a study was conducted to understand the association between light-intensity activities like some gardening, housekeeping, etc. on the rate of decline of physical function in 641 cancer survivors who were at least 65 years old. The study found that these light-intensity activities reduced the rate of physical function decline.
  • In another study in 2017, it was found that physical activity can help in preventing the recurrence of prostate cancer and improve survival after the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
  • A study of around 4,000 lymphoma patients showed that those with a higher physical activity levels throughout their adult lives had better survival after being diagnosed with lymphoma.
  • In a 2017 study regarding the role of physical activity in Oncology care, it was found that regular physical activity post diagnosis and treatment, reduces the risk of recurrence of Cancer and Cancer-specific mortality.
  • This year, around 990+ patients with colon cancer were studied based on the adherence to the American Cancer Society Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors After Colon Cancer Diagnosis. In the study, it was found that – 
    • There was a 42% reduction in mortality
    • 5-year survival probability was 85% for patients who followed the guidelines diligently as opposed to 76% for those who didn’t.

Key Points

  • Movement can take many forms.
  • Finding an activity that is fun will increase both motivation and enjoyment.
  • At least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day lowers risks for endometrial, postmenopausal breast and colorectal cancers. More activity may be associated with even more benefits.
  • Vigorous exercise in short bursts several times a day is also beneficial.
  • LHC is interested in moving more because it may reduce the level of physical function decline, increase survival, enhance tolerance to cancer treatments, and reduce sleep disruption and depression associated with cancer and treatments.
  • Moving more is generally beneficial, but some health conditions warrant caution.
  • Moving more is beneficial across all cancer types.
  • Practices to reduce risk of injury are advised.

American Cancer Society’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

  • If overweight or obese, limit consumption of high‐calorie foods and beverages and increase physical activity to promote weight loss.

Engage in regular physical activity.

  • Avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible following diagnosis.
  • Aim to exercise at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Include strength training exercises at least two days per week.

Achieve a dietary pattern that is high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

  • Follow the American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention (following).

ACS Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life.

  • Be as lean as possible throughout life without being underweight.
  • Avoid excess weight gain at all ages. For those who are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start.
  • Get regular physical activity and limit intake of high-calorie foods and drinks as keys to help maintain a healthy weight.

Be physically active.

  • Adults: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week.
  • Children and teens: Get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity on at least 3 days each week.
  • Limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, watching TV, and other forms of screen-based entertainment.
  • Doing some physical activity above usual activities, no matter what one’s level of activity, can have many health benefits.

Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods.

  • Choose foods and drinks in amounts that help you get to and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products.
  • If you drink alcohol, limit your intake.
  • Drink no more than one drink per day for women or two per day for men.

References & More Information

  1. Credit: Beyond Conventional Care Therapies
  2. Integrative Oncology Cancer Care
  3. Blair CK, Morey MC et al. Light-intensity activity attenuates functional decline in older cancer survivors. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2014 Jul;46(7):1375-83.
  4. Shephard RJ. Physical activity and prostate cancer: an updated review. Sports Medicine. 2017 Jun;47(6):1055-1073.
  5. Pophali P, Larson MC et al. The level of physical activity before and after lymphoma diagnosis impacts overall and lymphoma-specific survival. Presented at the American Society of Hematology 59th Annual Meeting & Exposition. 
  6. Brown JC, Ligibel JA. The role of physical activity in oncology care. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Monographs. 2017 Nov 1;2017(52).
  7. Van Blarigan EL, Fuchs CS et al. Association of survival with adherence to the American Cancer Society Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors after colon cancer diagnosis: The CALGB 89803/Alliance Trial. JAMA Oncol. 2018;4(6):783-790. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.0126.
  8. Oncology Nursing Society. Help Your Patients Get Up, Get Moving.
  9. P. Rajarajeswaran and R. Vishnupriya. Exercise in cancer. Indian J Med Paediatr Oncol. 2009 Apr-Jun; 30(2): 61–70. doi:  10.4103/0971-5851.60050.
  10. Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies
  11. Schettler T. The Ecology of Breast Cancer: The Promise of Prevention and the Hope for Healing. 2013. Science and Environmental Health Network and the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. p. 73.
  12. Speck R, Courneya K, Masse L, Duval S, Schmitz K. An update of controlled physical activity trials in cancer survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Cancer Survivorship. 2010 Jun; 4(2):87-100.
  13. Stevinson C, Campbell A, Cavill N, Foster J. Physical activity and cancer: a concise evidence review. Macmillan Cancer Support. 2017.
  14. Brown JC, Ligibel JA. The role of physical activity in oncology care. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Monographs. 2017 Nov 1;2017(52).
  15. Schwartz AL, de Heer HD, Bea JW. Initiating exercise interventions to promote wellness in cancer patients and survivors. Oncology (Williston Park). 2017 Oct 15;31(10):711-7.
  16. Driver HS, Taylor SR. Exercise and sleep. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2000 Aug;4(4):387-402.
  17. Mutrie N, Campbell A, Barry S, Hefferon K, et al. Five-year follow-up of participants in a randomized controlled trial showing benefits from exercise for breast cancer survivors during adjuvant treatment. Are there lasting effects? Journal of Cancer Survivorship. 2012; Jul 27.
  18. Schmitz KH, Courneya KS et al. American College of Sports Medicine roundtable on exercise guidelines for cancer survivors. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2010 Jul;42(7):1409-26.
  19. Stout NL, Baima J, Swisher AK, Winters-Stone KM, Welsh J. A systematic review of exercise systematic reviews in the cancer literature (2005-2017). PM & R. 2017 Sep;9(9S2):S347-S384.

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