Maintaining your quality of life in the aftermath of a cancer diagnosis — and, hopefully, into survivorship — requires a variety of different components. These can include things like social support, different medication and regular checkups. Now, new guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Cancer Society, along with 15 other organizations, are emphasizing the beneficial role of exercise in cancer prevention, treatment and even recovery.
According to the new guidelines, prescribing exercise has the potential to improve daily functioning and quality of life in patients by reducing symptoms like fatigue and depression. These recommendations build upon the groups’ previous recommendations from 2010, when the researchers did not have enough evidence to make specific exercise prescriptions.
Back then, the advice was fairly broad and adhered to the same guidelines as those for people with chronic illnesses. Now, cancer patients are advised to engage in moderate activities like walking three times a week, and to lift weights twice a week, if possible.
Reviews also found that exercise during and after cancer treatment was associated with longer subsequent life spans. Similarly, physically active people have as much as 69% less risk of being diagnosed with certain cancers than sedentary people. In particular, exercise appears to be especially adept at reducing the likelihood of individuals developing endometrial, colon, kidney, bladder, esophageal and stomach cancers.
According to the researchers, whether you’re dealing with cancer or hoping to avoid it, the simplest thing you can do is to move.