The Advantages of Being Physically Active… for Cancer Patients

New research has shown that exercise is not only safe and possible during cancer treatment, but it can improve how well you function physically and your quality of life. Researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center found that at the end of a 3 month study on prostate cancer patients, patients that included exercise and diet in their treatment plan were walking 3 to 4 times more quickly in a timed walk test than the usual care group. In addition, those in the exercise group lost an average of 4 pounds and 1 percent of their body fat, and their quality of life and ability to do everyday tasks had improved.

Too much rest can lead to loss of body function, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion. So today, many cancer care teams are urging their patients to be as physically active as possible during cancer treatment. Many people are learning about the advantages of being physically active after treatment, too.

Regular Exercise Can Help During Cancer Treatment

  • Keep or improve your physical abilities (how well you can use your body to do things)
  • Improve balance, lower risk of falls and broken bones
  • Keep muscles from wasting due to inactivity
  • Lower the risk of heart disease
  • Lessen the risk of osteoporosis (weak bones that are more likely to break)
  • Improve blood flow to your legs and lower the risk of blood clots
  • Make you less dependent on others for help with normal activities of daily living
  • Improve your self-esteem
  • Lower the risk of being anxious and depressed
  • Lessen nausea
  • Improve your ability to keep social contacts
  • Lessen symptoms of tiredness (fatigue)
  • Help you control your weight
  • Improve your quality of life

“There are many reasons for being physically active during cancer treatment, but each person’s exercise program should be based on what’s safe and what works best for them,” says Dr. Troy Sukkarieh, a urologist with UCA Old Bridge. “It should also be something you like doing. Your exercise plan should take into account any exercise program you already follow, what you can do now, and any physical problems or limits you have.”