Regular exercise, not rest, is best for cancer patients, finds study
EXERCISING on a regular basis reduces the chances of depression in cancer patients, new research has found.
A study found women with breast cancer who took part in regular physical activity, such as walking or aerobics, for five years or more, had far lower levels of depression.
The charity Macmillan Cancer Support, which funded the research, said it was the first time the long-term benefits of exercising during treatment had been proven.
Allan Cowie, the charity’s general manager in Scotland, said: “Cancer patients have traditionally been told to rest. However, this research shows there are real and long-lasting benefits to doing some exercise while going through treatment.
“This also builds on our previous findings, which show exercise makes some cancers less likely to return. Getting cancer patients to exercise is vital.”
Macmillan now wants to work with NHS boards and local councils across Scotland to develop exercise programmes aimed at ensuring cancer patients get active.
More than 200 women being treated for early stage breast cancer took part in the study and were seen by researchers from Strathclyde University over five years. The academics concluded women who were more active consistently experienced lower levels of depression and increased quality of life compared to those who were less active and those who were inactive.
One of the lead researchers, Dr Anna Campbell, said: “The results of this study were much more positive than we had expected, with evidence of lasting benefits, including increased positive mood and more active daily living.”
Laura Simm, 52 from Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, took part in the exercise programme while undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer and told how it helped her mental health.
She said: “I’m not a gym person but it felt really good during the classes, and afterwards I felt immediately better, brighter and cheerier in myself.
“The most beneficial thing for me about taking part is how it helped me mentally. I suffer from fatigue, but find being active outside in the fresh air is really therapeutic and makes me feel more positive.”
The study, recently published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, said women who took part in an exercise programme during treatment five years ago, now averaged three hours and twenty minutes more physical activity each week than a control group who did not.
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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