The Right Exercise Routine In Cancer Recovery

Exercise is an important of cancer recovery and prevention. Exercising during and after cancer treatment improves fatigue, anxiety, depression, physical function, quality of life and does not exacerbate lymphedema. According to the new guidelines based on research, cancer survivors should perform aerobic and resistance training for approximately 30 minutes per session, three times a week, as part of their exercise routine.

New exercise recommendations for cancer survivors have been developed because of a recent evaluation of the literature carried out by an international committee of experts under the direction of the University of British Columbia.

The revised suggestions, which were released in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, provide detailed “exercise prescriptions” to deal with typical side effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment, like weariness and worry.

Aerobic and resistance training for cancer survivors

The revised recommendations generally advise survivors to engage in resistance and aerobic exercise three times a week for 30 minutes each session. This is a change from earlier recommendations, which were released almost ten years ago and suggested cancer patients to exercise for 150 minutes each week, as recommended for all Americans.

“Exercise has been regarded as a safe and helpful way for cancer survivors to lessen the impact of cancer treatment on their physical and mental health, but the precise type and amount of exercise to treat the many different health outcomes related to cancer treatment hasn’t been clear,” says the paper’s lead author, Dr. Kristin Campbell, associate professor at UBC’s department of physical therapy. “In the absence of this information, cancer survivors were advised to strive toward meeting the general public health guidelines for all Americans — an amount of physical activity that may be difficult for people to achieve during or following cancer treatment.”

The updated guidelines are supported by a thorough examination and evaluation of the accumulating body of relevant scientific information. More than 2,500 published randomised controlled exercise trials in cancer survivors have been conducted since the first recommendations were made in 2010 — a 281% increase.

Role of exercise in cancer prevention and control

The new report is one of three that were released today that compile the findings of a global roundtable discussion on the benefits of exercise for cancer prevention and management. A roundtable of 40 international, interdisciplinary specialists from different organisations undertook a thorough and up-to-date evaluation of the research on the benefits of exercise in cancer prevention, management, and recovery.

Together, the three papers provide updated, evidence-based suggestions for include physical activity in cancer prevention and treatment programmes. They also present the new Moving Through Cancer initiative, run by the American College of Sports Medicine, which will support doctors around the world in putting these suggestions into practise.

The new recommendations include:

  • For all adults, exercise is important for cancer prevention and specifically lowers risk of seven common types of cancer: colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, bladder, oesophagus and stomach
  • For cancer survivors, incorporate exercise to help improve survival after a diagnosis of breast, colon and prostate cancer
  • Exercising during and after cancer treatment improves fatigue, anxiety, depression, physical function, quality of life and does not exacerbate lymphedema
  • Continue research that will drive the integration of exercise into the standard of care for cancer
  • Translate into practice the increasingly robust evidence bases about the positive effects of exercise for cancer patients

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Kristin L. Campbell, Kerri M. Winters-Stone, Joachim Wiskemann, Anne M. May, Anna L. Schwartz, Kerry S. Courneya, David S. Zucker, Charles E. Matthews, Jennifer A. Ligibel, Lynn H. Gerber, G. Stephen Morris, Alpa V. Patel, Trisha F. Hue, Frank M. Perna, Kathryn H. Schmitz. Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2019; 51 (11): 2375 DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002116

Page citation:

University of British Columbia. “Exercise guidelines for cancer survivors.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2019. <>.

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