Benefits of Exercise for Cancer

It is important to think of food as being the fuel and medicine for your body. You wouldn’t fill up your extremely expensive car with the cheapest gas you could find, right? Properly fueling your body helps it to continue to run smoothly and stave off chronic diseases.

Getting proper exercise is a crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle. What some people don’t know is that getting exercise can benefit your body to the point of fighting off cancer. Exercise is a powerful signal for mitochondria to reproduce and multiply in a healthy way. When this does not happen and mitochondrial start to dysfunction, this can create the foundational core of almost every form of cancer. Here are some of the many benefits that exercise has on fighting cancer.

How Exercise Improves the Outcome of Cancer Treatment

Aside from adding back some depleted energy from the side effects of chemotherapy, exercise has been found to allow cancer patients to experience less of the typical side effects of chemotherapy, especially when it comes to nausea and fatigue.

Doing any exercise while being treated for cancer, whether it is higher in intensity or just moderate, can have a great effect on the patient.

Studies show that even if people do a very modest amount of exercise, they will likely more than double their chances of successfully beating their cancer.

Cancer patients who are undergoing treatment can help to retain their muscle mass by exercising, while those who do not exercise tend to lose up to 15% of their muscle mass during their drug therapy. However, patients who participate in an exercise program of some sort lose little to no muscle mass, and some patients are even able to gain some muscle.

Exercise Should Be Standard in Cancer Care

There have been strong arguments made for the addition of exercise in any standard cancer care. This treatment involves moderate exercise for 150 minutes throughout the week for anyone who is receiving drug therapy for cancer.

Physical activity is a critical part of almost every program that works to treat cancer. One of the reasons for this is that exercise can help reduce the most common side effects of cancer treatment, such as:

  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • depression
  • low mood
  • low appetite
  • constipation
  • fatigue
  • weight maintenance

European Studies Report Exercise is Beneficial in Fighting Cancer

Studies have shown that exercise truly does help to fight cancer. This has urged scientists to come to the conclusion that the body systemically produces cancer-fighting agents while it is active.

Studies done on mice revealed that tumors in mice that exercised contained cells that naturally destroy cancer. Researchers also noted that the epinephrine and interleukin 6 in the mice were released while they were exercising, which then increased both the release and the effectiveness of natural cancer-killing cells. Ultimately, these results link exercise to the rate of tumor growth.

Exercise and Breast Cancer

Although patients suffering from breast cancer may not think they feel up to exercising, it can actually help to improve their symptoms and make them feel better.

One study showed that aerobic exercise slowed the growth progression of breast cancer tumors in mice. When researchers surgically implanted breast cancer cells into female mice, they found that mice who had access to exercise had a slower rate of the growth of their tumor than the mice who could not exercise. Additionally, exercise made the cancer cells react better to chemotherapy.

Based on these findings, researchers have confirmed exercise as a critical therapy for patients who are suffering from breast cancer. Studies are now being scheduled to test if exercise can actually stop the growth of a tumor and decrease its risk of recurrence in humans.

Exercise and Prostate Cancer

Studies also show that men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer can benefit from exercise. Research done on men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer showed that men who were the most active before their diagnosis were 30% less likely to die from their prostate cancer than those who were sedentary. Additionally, the men who were most active after their diagnosis were 34% less likely to die from their prostate cancer than those who were sedentary.

Although men who are receiving treatment for prostate cancer are typically prescribed anti-androgen drugs, causing them to be fatigued, gain weight and even sometimes lose bone loss, studies have shown that exercise can help to maintain their bone density and energy levels.

Clearly, there is a lot of strong evidence that supports exercise as an effective way to reduce the growth of cancerous tumors and the risk of cancer recurrence. Cancer patients and their families would be surprised to learn the extent of the benefit that physical activity may have on their recovery and overall health in the long-term. People who have been diagnosed with cancer should make an effort to be physically active, even if it is nothing too intense. All forms of activity can help to benefit the body.

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