Exercise has long been considered an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Recent analysis of past studies involving cancer patients shows that physical activity can have the same benefits for patients undergoing integrative immunotherapy and other treatments.
Can exercise really help cancer patients?
The study, reported by co-authors Dr. Arnaud Vincent and Jasper Gerittsen, was recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The duo reviewed results of 16 earlier tests comparing the effects of exercise vs. inactivity in cancer patients. In general, those asked to increase their physical activity reported a greater quality of life than those in the control groups.
Improvements ranged from better overall body functioning to higher self-esteem. While exercise schedules varied from two to five times per week, there was no significant difference in results for patients with the greater frequency of sessions. One notable finding showed that patients who began exercising during treatment enjoyed both physical and mental benefits, while those who started after treatment saw only physical improvement.
Adding regular physical activity
Doctors and patients alike often believe that cancer treatment calls for more periods of rest, but this analysis may lead to a new perspective. Dr. Vincent explained that the spectrum of physical activity is wide enough to allow flexibility in adapting exercise appropriate for patients restricted to wheelchairs or beds.
Lifestyle is an important consideration in developing our personalized integrative immunotherapy programs. For decades, Issels® has been a leader in non-toxic protocols that reduce many of the serious side effects associated with traditional treatments. Contact us today to learn more about the Issels® difference.
The benefits of daily exercise may be particularly beneficial to those undergoing cancer treatment and cancer survivors. At Issels® Center for Integrative Immuno-Oncology, we find that cancer treatments often work best when in conjunction with the overall health and wellbeing of the patient.
Dr. Colleen Doyle of the American Cancer Society recently explained the benefits of exercise to HemOnc Today. Below is a synopsis of her informative comments.
Should Cancer Patients Exercise?
Patients should discuss their condition, treatment, and previous activity levels with a physician before beginning physical activity. Those who exercised regularly before may need to place limits on exertion levels and duration. If you seldom exercised prior to diagnosis, minimal stretching and walking may be best.
Other considerations include the side effects of treatment and increased risks in those with compromised immune systems. You may need to avoid the germs at public gyms, for example. Those with weakened muscles and bones may need supervision when beginning exercise.
Benefits of Physical Activity During and After Cancer Treatment
For those dealing with cancer, exercise benefits the musculoskeletal system and may enhance one’s physical wellbeing and capabilities. Exercise also reduces stress levels, improving their mood and overall outlook in life. It can also fend off the fatigue of illness and treatment with a boost to energy levels.
Exercise can also bring a sense of normalcy and activity to life. One might consider physical activity to be a much-needed break from the rigors of undergoing treatment.
Exercising on a regular basis could help prevent breast cancer thanks to a hormone known as irisin. In the latest cancer research news, scientists at the University of New Mexico concluded that irisin, which is released from muscles after exercising, might provide protection from breast cancer. Its effects on the body might also improve the effectiveness of breast cancer treatment.
Effects of Irisin
Researchers targeted cancerous and non-cancerous breast cells with genetically engineered irisin. The results showed that irisin destroyed cancerous cells but left non-cancerous cells alone. After being exposed to the hormone, the number of cancerous cells decreased by 34 percent. Irisin also reduced cell migration by 51 percent, which could indicate that the hormone is able to slow down or prevent the spread of cancerous cells to other parts of the body.
Exercise and Cancer Prevention
These cancer research findings have shed some light on the reason why exercise plays an important role in cancer prevention and treatment. Other studies have established an association between working out and having a lower risk of cancer. The UNM study focused on how chemicals produced by the body during exercise, specifically irisin, might have an effect on breast cancer. In addition to destroying cancerous cells, irisin also stays in the body for long periods of time, which provides even greater protection against cancer. While additional studies still need to be done, researchers are hopeful that these findings will encourage exercise as a form of cancer prevention and treatment.
To learn about non-toxic cancer treatments, please contact Issels®. We offer immunotherapy and other forms of non-toxic treatment methods for many different types of cancer.
Exercise has been called a “magic pill.” Exercise plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system and helping your body fight off disease. There also appears to be a strong link between physical exercise and not only cancer prevention, but also reduced risk of cancer recurrence.
At Issels Centers for Integrative Medicine, our holistic approach to cancer treatment recognizes the benefits of exercise in achieving long-term cancer remission. Education in exercise and nutrition are included in our individualized immunotherapy plans. While some level of physical activity is encouraged during and after cancer treatment to strengthen the immune system and promote healing, we understand that most patients will need to adjust their physical activity to match fluctuations in strength and energy.
Cancer survivors should use the following tips to help manage their post-treatment exercise programs:
Start slow and build on your progress. Strengthening your immune system is a process. Increase activity levels gradually and don’t be upset by setbacks. It is normal for strength and energy to fluctuate after treatment. Give yourself time to heal. Do a little more when you’re feeling energized; a little less when you’re not.
Do what you enjoy. Immune system benefits can come from any physical activity. You’re more apt to exercise if you’re doing something you enjoy.
Try yoga.Yoga is an excellent low-impact exercise. Yoga does not require physical strength or stamina but offers an excellent workout.
Build stamina and muscle mass. Eventually, your exercise program should include a mixture of aerobic exercise to increase stamina and resistance training to rebuild lost muscle mass.
Going through cancer treatment can certainly feel like a workout. Afterwards, physical activity might be the last thing on your mind. However, starting an exercise program can be beneficial to both your physical and mental health.
Studies have demonstrated that increased physical activity can help prevent a recurrence of cancer while extending the life span of cancer survivors. Exercise can also boost your mental and emotional outlook, which is vital for maintaining quality of life. It helps promote production of serotonin and endorphins, chemicals that work in your brain to elevate mood and reduce pain.
Here are some tips to help you successfully incorporate regular exercise into your lifestyle.
Don’t overdo it, especially if exercise wasn’t a part of your pre-diagnosis routine. Start off with small, achievable goals. Your success at each step provides motivation to move up to the next level.
Find an activity you enjoy. Don’t feel obligated to use a particular form or style just because it works for others. Do you find treadmills boring? Try swimming or walking outdoors. You’ll be more likely to stick with it if you’re having fun.
Exercise doesn’t have to be formal to pay dividends. Look for little things you can do such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Don’t feel guilty when you’re too fatigued for activity. Listen to your body and get some rest. Start up again once you’re feeling better.
Exercise is a healthy complement to the holistic cancer therapy offered at Issels alternative cancer treatment centers. Our integrative immunology approach focuses on a personalized program treating both mind and body. Please contact us to learn more.
Exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle, especially after a cancer diagnosis. It offers physical benefits such as boosting your immune system while fostering a positive mental attitude that’s so important to fighting cancer. Adding resistance training specifically targets some of the changes you may experience during treatment.
Resistance training uses weights, from either equipment or your own body, to supplement exercise moves. Its primary benefit is increasing muscle mass and tone. Cancer patients often lose muscle and gain fat as a side effect of treatment. Practicing resistance training can offset this tendency and help you maintain a better level of muscle tone.
This loss of muscle can be a contributing factor toward the fatigue suffered by patients in treatment. A 2012 study performed by Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center followed 221 cancer survivors in a 12-week strength training program. Participants showed major improvements in muscle mass along with blood pressure, body strength and flexibility.
Cancer can sometimes contribute to the development of osteoporosis. The disease itself can result in bone weakness, while radiation and hormone therapy can affect bone density. Weight training works your bones in the same way that it works your muscles, making it a powerful weapon against osteoporosis.
While aerobic exercise can be performed on a daily basis, strength training is best when done on a schedule that allows for intervening rest days. It’s a good idea to work with a trainer who can help you develop a program for maximum efficiency.
Resistance training benefits the mind-body connection that’s such an important part of the integrative immunotherapy provided at Issels alternative cancer treatment centers. Please contact us to learn more our individualized treatment programs.