Importance of Physical Activity for Cancer Patients During & Post Therapy

Key Takeaways:

  • Physical activity is safe and enhances the quality of life, fitness, and physical functionality during and post-cancer treatment.
  • Positive outcomes have been seen from different types of workouts, including resistance sessions, aerobic activities, and a mix of both.
  • Overall physical activity for cancer survivors is beneficial and assists in their ability to perform daily tasks more efficiently, improve muscle strength, cardiovascular functioning, and their quality of life.
  • The precise dosage of exercise or specific type of workouts remains uncertain, yet moderate activity, even short walks, provides apparent benefits.
  • The recommended lifestyle for cancer survivors involves maintaining an active lifestyle, with an emphasis on integrating a plant-based diet.

Current research highlights the significance of workout routines during and post-cancer therapy. The study denotes that physical activity is not only safe but also enhances the quality of life, fitness, and physical functionality.

The Impact of Different Types of Exercises

The lead author, Brian Focht, states that positive outcomes have been observed with all sorts of workouts. He emphasized that “Resistance sessions, aerobic activities, as well as a combination of both the aerobic and resistance workouts have resulted in notable improvements in fitness, quality of life and physical function.”

The Increasing Number of Cancer Survivors

Currently, over 15 million people are cancer survivors in the United States, and this statistic is expected to escalate to 20 million in the next ten years.

However, the current instructions concerning physical activity for cancer survivors seem too general, merely suggesting patients to maintain an active lifestyle, as Focht noted.

An Examination on Exercise Impacts for Cancer Patients

The research was conducted on prostate cancer patients and breast cancer patients to evaluate the impacts of physical activity.

For instance, the study on prostate cancer included 32 patients with an average age of 65. All were under hormone therapy for their cancer. Half of the men were randomly designated to a plant-based diet and exercise regimen, while the other half received standard care.

Upon completion of three months, it was observed that the group on the exercise and diet regime showed a substantial increase in timed walk test speed, an average loss of 4 pounds and 1 percent of their body fat, improved quality of life and the ability to perform daily tasks more efficiently.


The implications of the second study, recently published in scientific journals, highlights the importance of exercise for women undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment after breast cancer.

The research estimated seventeen previous randomized trials that studied exercise programs. The duration of these programs ranged from three to six months, with some based at home and others supervised by researchers. Typically, participants who exercised showed enhancements in muscle strength, cardiovascular functioning, and quality of life.

In further detail, the prostate cancer study adjusted the exercise’s intensity for each individual for comfort. Yet, there was no information regarding the effect of exercise intensity and which type is deemed best. “We can’t accurately draw any conclusions about whether intensity matters,” Focht said.

The Verdict

Jessica DeHart, an assistant professor of epidemiology, also engages in research on the potential benefits of physical exercise for cancer survivors. Her opinion aligns with the research findings, stating that exercise is beneficial for cancer survivors.

She further added, “We cannot specify this is the particular dosage or type of exercise. What is apparent from research is that any physical activity seems helpful when thinking about quality of life.”

DeHart advises her patients, “Try for moderate activity, even if it is just a short walk.”

Further Information

For more knowledge about physical activity during and after cancer treatment, you can visit the
American Cancer Society.

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