Since the beginning doctors have advised exercises to lower the risk of developing cancer, as well as to ensure that cancer patients are thriving when treatment is over. But how do you exercise in the course of treatment? There was no recommendation to do this, up until now.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently released the first ever exercise guidelines based on evidence for patients who are currently undergoing active treatment for cancer.

“This is huge,” says Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., director of MD Anderson’s Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship. “When patients inquired about whether they should exercise while undergoing treatment there was no guidance from the government on what we could tell them. Today, we follow it.”

Numerous clinical trials have proven the benefits of physical activity

In order to develop these guidelines ASCO created a committee of expert experts who reviewed over 100 research studies investigating the connection between exercise and treatment for cancer.

The results they came up with left no doubt that physical activity helps reduce side effects and symptoms when patients undergo chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both. It also assists patients who undergo surgery recover quicker and with less complications.

“The research shows that exercise during treatment for cancer reduces depression, anxiety, and fatigue as well as improving the quality of your living and physical functioning,” Basen-Engquist says. “Staying active can help patients keep taking part in the activities of their daily lives.”

In our minds, many people believe that cancer and exercise do not go hand-in-hand She says.

“You’d be shocked by the sheer number of people who believe that exercising during treatment for cancer is a revolutionary idea. They believe cancer patients should sit in a couch, with their blankets, and take the time to relax.”

New guidelines Basen Engquist claims, assure that exercising is safe and beneficial to cancer patients.

The development of an exercise routine during treatment for cancer

The guidelines suggest regular aerobic exercises like jogging, walking or cycling, as well as strengthening exercises, such as performing weight lifts, or using bands of resistance in patients who’s cancer hasn’t expanded beyond the initial location.

Aerobic exercise can strengthen the lungs and the heart. Resistance exercises help strengthen the muscles.

“Both kinds of exercises can be used in conjunction to help cancer patients maintain their health and well-being.” Basen-Engquist explains.

Aerobic exercises should be conducted at a moderate level according to her advice. This lets you talk and not sing. It’s in contrast to a vigorous pace that can’t be said anything more than few sentences without stopping to take an air breath.

Begin slowly, Basen-Engquist suggests and pay attention the body. If your energy levels are low, you can adjust the length or intensity you work out until you feel more comfortable.

Make it a point to complete 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

“Spread those 150 minutes over many sessions,” she says. “I recommend to patients to try to get 30 minutes per day, seven days a week, that’s 150 minutes.”

If 30 minutes are too much The doctor suggests 10 minutes of workout during the early morning hours, 10 minutes following lunch and 10 minutes in the evening.”

Walking is an option, according to Basen-Engquist. If you’re not a fan of walking She suggests that certain patients play golf, dance, or swim take a tai chi class or even garden.

“You’d be amazed by the muscle strength you build when you pull weeds,” she says.

What is the role of exercise in preventing cancer?

It isn’t known for certain However, Basen-Engquist says that exercise can reduce levels of insulin and inflammation that are associated with certain types of cancers.

Exercise also triggers angiogenesis, which is the formation of blood vessels that are not there before, which can mean that more anti-cancer drugs based on blood could be delivered to tumors with cancer.

“Exercise could help chemotherapy to be more effective,” she says.

Immune function is also beneficial. As cancer damages your immune system exercising increases the flow of immune cells that fight cancer. It could even aid in the immune system to perform better.

Exercise during treatment for cancer isn’t a one-size-fits-all exercise routine.

Training to increase the effectiveness of the treatment for cancer is beneficial as said by Basen-Engquist. This puts patients in charge, even during a time where cancer has caused the feeling of losing control.

Physical exercise that each patient can take on can vary.

“The kind of cancer you’re suffering from as well as the treatment options you’re getting as well as the side effects you’re experiencing , and your current fitness level will all be considered in your workout routine,” Basen-Engquist says.

Talk to your doctor about the best options for you. Then, get moving.

“Even even if you only do only a few minutes walking, go for it,” Basen-Engquist says. “Small steps can lead to huge outcomes.”

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