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Even low levels of exercise aid cancer recovery. (Risk & Recovery).

A study of 21 cancer survivors published in December affirmed the connection between aerobic exercise and improved cancer recovery. Over a 10week period, a moderate or even low intensity level fitness regimen was shown to combat such cancer recovery side effects as muscular atrophy, fatigue, depression, and decreased strength and quality of life.

The study is among the first to compare the effectiveness of low and moderate levels of exercise intensity, and found no significant difference between the two in the many benefits observed. Furthermore, the regimens were well tolerated and diligently adhered to by the survivors, making a strong case for even low levels of aerobic exercise as a valuable component of the cancer rehabilitation process.

The subjects were randomly assigned to three exercise groups: those beginning a regimen at 25% of heart rate reserve and gradually working up to 40% over a 10-week period; those beginning at 40% of heart rate reserve and working to 60% over 10 weeks; and a control group participating in no exercise over the 10-week period. The exercise sessions were initially 14 minutes in duration, divided equally between running on a treadmill, stationary biking and stair climbing, and were increased by two minutes per week, reaching 32 minutes at week 10.

No significant physiological or psychological differences were observed between the low and moderate groups. But compared to the controls, these groups experienced significant increases in quality of life, energy level, aerobic capacity, body composition and flexibility. They also experienced significantly less fatigue and anxiety than they had at the onset of the study, whereas the controls did not experience such a decrease.

Over the 10 weeks, no subjects withdrew or were injured, and attendance rate at the exercise sessions was a rather high 95%. This data suggests that the exercise regimen was well tolerated and safe for these participants, and that if low levels of aerobic activity increase one's ability to maintain an exercise regimen, they by all means should be employed as an effective rehabilitation measure.

The prolonged inactivity associated with recovering cancer patients leads to physiological decline, and contributes to long-term fatigue and weakness. Furthermore, being able to take part in daily activities contributes to psychological well being. Although rest combats fatigue in the short term, exercise is clearly an important part of the recovery process over the long haul.

(Med. & Sci. in Sports & Exerc., 2002, Vol. 34, No. 12, pp. 1863-1867)
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Publication:Running & FitNews
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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