Saturday, October 8, 2011

Physical Activity after and during Cancer Treatment

In my last post, I referred to the American College of Sports Medicine's exercises recommendations for persons who are in cancer treatment or who are post cancer treatment.  The goal of the exercise programs is to improve cardiorespiratory fitness or CR.  CR is a measure of the body's ability to transport oxygen.  When we breathe oxygen in, it is sent to our cells, tissues, organs etc. Oxygen is basically a fuel and nutrient for our cells.  Enhanced transport is essential.
With regard to the exercise recommendations, what struck me as most important was not that the goal should be 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity a day- such as walking - five days a week, but the sentence that followed.  
This should be considered the minimum level you need to set as a goal for your post-cancer treatment rehabilitation exercise program.
There were a couple of other statements in the article that are worth repeating here.
Being physically active may prevent the risk of cancer recurrence for cancer survivors. 
And of the primary objectives is to return CR fitness to pre-cancer levels post therapy and in many cases, increase it beyond pre-cancer diagnosis. (in other words, get the person at a level of fitness that is greater than the level they had prior to becoming ill)
A list of benefits that can be achieved is listed in the article.  It is not yet available on line, but includes increased muscle strength, muscle mass, quality of life, sleep, decreased anxiety and depression, decreased symptoms from treatment, increased energy and vigor, decreased physiological markers of disease, like insulin resistance and inflammation and the best one - as stated in the opening of this post - decreased risk of cancer recurrence.

As I said, the article is not yet available for on line viewing, but you can click on this link to see the ACSM's press release on the guidelines, which was released about a year ago.

We have come such a long way from the frail cancer patient who was encouraged to eat, and who often died during the course of treatment.  Now we have the one who is encouraged to eat well, monitor their weight and  keep moving.

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