In our book and blog, we repeatedly plug the multiple health benefits of engaging in regular exercise. A new study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health shows that this holds true in cancer survivors as well.
Some people, when faced with a cancer diagnosis, will do their best to treat the cancer with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation, but will otherwise neglect their diets and physical activity levels. In some cases, they’ll also continue to smoke. This is due to the mistaken belief that once someone has cancer, there’s no point in changing lifestyle habits that are usually thought of as preventative measures.
However, there’s strong evidence that quitting smoking, even after someone is diagnosed with different cancers, can both prolong life and improve quality of life. The study mentioned here shows that the same is true with exercise.
The researchers followed a cohort of over a thousand men (average age 71) who were diagnosed with different cancers. Through questionnaires, the researchers determined the men’s physical activity levels. The results were quite impressive. Those who burned over 3,000 calories a week had half the death rate of those who burned fewer than 500 calories weekly! Even those who burned between 500 and 1,000 calories weekly saw a 23% reduction in mortality.
Although unfortunately this study only looked at men, there’s no reason to suspect that the same wouldn’t hold true in women.
None of us should ever experience cancer; that’s our fervent hope. However, it’s worthwhile to have the knowledge that aside from standard treatments, there’s an aspect of cancer prognosis that people have control over. Lifestyle choices matter.