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How Exercise Can Help Cancer Patients

How Exercise Can Help Cancer Patients

According to the National Cancer Institute, exercise may be a very important component in the overall well being of cancer patients. In the areas of control of fatigue and improved physical functioning, moderate exercise has been shown to be effective in supporting the recovery of patients with several types of cancer. No specific studies have been conducted for how exercise affects those with mesothelioma, but mild exercise when the patient is able to participate may be very helpful.

It is too soon to predict how exercise programs may effect survival rate, says Dr. Kathryn Schmitz of the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center. However, a panel of expert’s convened last year by the American College of Sports Medicine hopes to develop guidelines for adding exercise to the treatment regimen. Dr. Schmitz states that such a strategy could be comparable to cardiac rehabilitation.

It is unknown how this development will affect mesothelioma prognosis. The panel did indicate that some patients are simply too sick to engage in an exercise program and may need to wait until their health improves. For patients who have completed treatment, though, exercise has been shown to be very beneficial in sustaining and improving the energy balance. This is the term physicians use to describe how weight, diet and physical exercise affect overall health.

The researchers hope to eventually develop specific guidelines for exercise programs tailored to patients with specific types of cancer. However, they state that insufficient evidence is available at this time for such recommendations. It does seem clear that regular moderate exercise does improve an individual’s physical abilities, weight control, insulin level, body image and psychological well being.

Moderate exercise is defined as the equivalent of a brisk walk for 30 minutes, at least 5 days per week, or more vigorous exercise for 20 minutes at least 5 days per week. Planning an exercise program should be done on an individual basis, with the physicians assigned to each patient’s care. Every cancer and every individual is unique; so several different factors such as bone strength need to be taken into account before embarking on an exercise schedule.

It does seem clear that exercise will become an important component in the overall care of cancer patients in the future.