Nov. 1st, 2022 Exercise while receiving chemotherapy can aid cancer patients in overcoming the effects of the treatment and get back to their normal lives sooner.
According to a new study of 266 patients receiving chemotherapy for breast, testicular or colon cancer, or non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The participants participated in a 6 month exercise program however, half of them began the program prior to their chemotherapy treatment (3 months before the time their chemo was scheduled to come to an end) and the remaining half started the program after the chemo had been completed.
Research has previously demonstrated that exercise can benefit cancer patients However, this study is the first study to examine how the timing of exercise could affect the results of treatment.
People who exercised during chemotherapy noticed a lesser decline in their peak oxygen consumption or VO2 peakwhich is a measure of fitness overall after the chemotherapy had ended. After that the VO2 peak of their group decreased by around 50% less than the other group’s.
There were also less decreases in strength and quality of life and physical performance. Additionally, they reported less fatigue.
“Although patients may feel tired after the treatment, exercise may cause changes in strength of muscles and enhance physical fitness,” says study author Annemiek Walenkamp, MD, PhD, an oncologist at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands.
Exercise causes cellular changes within the body, triggering the creation of mitochondria in muscles cell, Walenkamp explains.
“Having more mitochondria boosts your body’s energy production. Exercise also increases the flow of oxygen. This lets you more effectively utilize your the energy .”
If exercise isn’t safe to be carried out during chemotherapy, an after-treatment program can aid. In reality, all participants of the study were able return the fitness back to their baseline condition one year after they completed their exercise regimen, regardless of the time they began it.
Maintaining the health of your heart and lung is crucial for cancer patients because it can increase the chances of survival. Another study showed that for each extra 1 peak metabolic equivalent (the level of power that you sit still for) cancer patients experienced through an exercise routine, their risk to die from cancer was reduced by 25%..
What type of exercise is recommended for patients? For the Dutch study, participants completed 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (stationary bike treadmill) every day as well as 20 to 30 minutes of weight training two times each week, and leisure sport such as soccer, indoor hockey, or badminton every week. They were supervised by an occupational therapist for the first 3 months before they were required to continue the program by themselves for the remaining three months.
Further research is required to find the most safe exercises for various kinds of cancers, Walenkamp says. Patients with bone or lung cancer, for instance should be extra vigilant and make certain to collaborate with the services of a physical therapist that specialize in helping cancer patients.
“When the safety of patients is assured I believe that every patient will benefit from this treatment,” Walenkamp says.
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