Get Off and Stay Off the Cancer Couch

Cancer recovery and post-treatment health improve with physical activity

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) If you've lived with cancer, you know it zaps your energy. It's easy to hit the couch and stay there. But you do so at the peril of your health and well-being. Get up and get moving to keep moving beyond cancer!

It's official: a study published on (the website of the British Medical Journal) proves that after major cancer treatment is complete, physical activity can - and does - improve a person's health and quality of life.

"Get moving and keep moving through cancer."

University of Hong Kong researchers analyzed the data and results from 34 trials designed to measure the effects of physical activity among adult cancer patients.

Each study involved about 93 individuals of an average age of  55 who had been treated for either breast, prostate, gynecologic, colorectal, gastric or lung cancer.

Study participants had partaken in aerobic, resistance and strength training for just over three months.

Here's what the researchers learned from these studies:

  • Breast cancer patients lost weight and lowered BMI (body mass index); improved leg strength; had better blood sugar control, more energy and less depression, along with overall improved quality of life.
  • People living with other cancers experienced similar results, with physical function improvements in such areas as breathing and handgrip strength.

Types of exercise made a difference. Women living in the aftermath of breast cancer found that a combination of aerobic and resistance exercises was much better for physical and emotional fitness, as well as overall well-being than was aerobic activity alone.

These findings come as no surprise to fitness expert, Jim Crowell.

"In my experience, I have seen exercise contribute a huge number of positive outcomes to the vast majority of people who have tried it. I have seen strength and aerobic exercise training help many sick people recover faster, feel more energetic, and live more quality lives," said Crowell, owner and head trainer of Integrated Fitness in Pittsburgh.

"The body responds very well to a well managed fitness regiment, and I absolutely believe that this holds true for those who have gone through disease," Crowell told dailyRx.

This study was supported by the World Cancer Research Fund International, World Cancer Research Fund UK, and World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong.

None of the authors disclosed any conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 31, 2012
Last Updated:
January 31, 2012