Cancer survivors (CS) may gain significant benefits from undergoing physical activity (PA), according to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine. Yet, the physical activity’s optimal dose still remains unclear because of the different reasons which include types of cancer, illness stages and treatments, physical inactivity, and low cardiorespiratory fitness.
In order to develop exercise prescription guidelines for the patient population, the researchers enrolled 152 inactive CS and instructed to perform a cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET). Data on the patients’ respiratory compensation point, peak oxygen uptake, and ventilatory threshold were used to identify three exercise intensity zones in order to create exercise intensity classification guidelines for CS.
According to results, CS had lower than estimated values for peak oxygen and peak heart rate uptake. Moreover, the moderate intensity zone for CS was also different from the current exercise guidelines for a healthy population. Researchers found that exercise intensity guidelines for healthy populations are not applied to CS. Health experts emphasize the usefulness of those specific exercise guidelines in a cancer survivor as it will optimize the beneficial effects of physical activities in the patients.
The researchers concluded that:
“These data suggest that intensities in PA guidelines for healthy population are not adjusted to the characteristics of CS. For individual exercise prescription in CS, when there is no availability for performing a CPET, specific PA guidelines for CS should be used in order to maximize the benefits obtainable by the use of aerobic exercise training. Furthermore, exercise program should be initiated as early as possible after the cancer diagnosis to improve their quality of life.”
More studies show that exercise may prevent cancer relapse. Many studies revealed how engaging in physical activity may lower the odds of cancer reoccurrence. One is a study which involved 144 women with ovarian cancer wherein researchers discovered that those who underwent 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week for 6 months displayed a reduction in levels of hormones linked with tumor growth when compared with those who did not exercise.
A study on 221 women with breast cancer has also shown that those who lost weight through dieting has a significant decrease in the hormones that promote tumor growth.
Prof. Melinda Irwin, associate director at Yale Cancer Center and professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health says that:
“We found a strong connection between exercise after diagnosis and mortality afterwards. Most interestingly, it showed the impact on changes in activity on mortality – even if you’ve never been active before taking regular exercise seemed to show a great impact. They show that losing weight and taking up exercise have a significant effect on the biomarkers of cancer. They are showing that it’s causal – that by changing activity or weight loss it could improve your prognosis. This is crucial.”