- Posted by jdavis on June 14, 2011
By Elizabeth Quinn, About.com, reviewed by the Medical Review Board
Evidence seems to support the benefits of exercise as a treatment for cancer. Several studies have examined the relationship between exercise, rehabilitation and quality of life in cancer survivors and reported positive findings.
Studies have followed women undergoing breast cancer treatment who added moderate exercise to their treatment regimen. In most studies women exercised at a moderate intensity (60-85% maximal heart rate) for twenty to thirty minutes, 3 times per week from 4 to 12 weeks. The exercise programs included bicycle ergometer and walking programs.
These studies have found that, overall, exercise had a positive effect on physical and psychological functioning of those in cancer treatment. These benefits include the following objective and self-reported findings:
- increased functional capacity
- decreased body fat
- increased lean muscle mass
- decreased nausea and fatigue
- improved natural defense mechanisms
- improved sense of control
- improved mood
- improved self-esteem
- self reported improved quality of life
Other studies found that exercising cancer survivors had improved work capacity, lower heart rates at given exercise intensity, increased maximum workloads and increased time to exhaustion than did those who did not exercise.
Psychological changes, including a decrease in total mood disturbances, decrease in depression and fewer problems sleeping, were noted between the exercise and non-exercise groups.