Can Regular Exercise Improve the Effectiveness of Cancer Treatments? If So, How?
Yes, regular exercise can indeed improve the effectiveness of cancer treatments. Numerous studies have shown that exercise can have positive effects on cancer patients undergoing various treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapies. Here’s how regular exercise can contribute to better outcomes for cancer patients:
Enhanced Treatment Tolerance: Regular exercise can improve cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, and overall endurance. This can help cancer patients better tolerate the physical stress and side effects of treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Patients who exercise often experience fewer treatment-related complications and have a better overall quality of life.
Reduced Treatment Side Effects: Exercise has been shown to alleviate common side effects of cancer treatments, such as fatigue, nausea, and pain. It can also help prevent or minimize issues like muscle wasting and joint stiffness, which are often associated with prolonged periods of inactivity during treatment.
Immune System Support: Exercise has a positive impact on the immune system by promoting the circulation of immune cells and enhancing their activity. This can potentially help the body better defend itself against cancer cells and infections, especially during a time when the immune system might be compromised due to treatments.
Psychological Well-Being: Cancer treatments can take a toll on a patient’s mental health, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce these psychological symptoms and improve overall emotional well-being. It can also help boost mood and promote a sense of accomplishment, which can be particularly important during the challenging journey of cancer treatment.
Potential Direct Effects on Tumor Growth: While more research is needed in this area, some studies suggest that exercise might have direct effects on tumor growth by affecting factors such as inflammation, hormone levels, and insulin resistance. These factors are known to influence cancer progression, and exercise may play a role in modulating them.
Improved Treatment Outcomes: Emerging evidence suggests that regular exercise may enhance the effectiveness of certain cancer therapies by increasing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tumor cells. This, in turn, could make tumor cells more susceptible to treatment.
It’s important to note that the type and intensity of exercise should be tailored to each individual’s condition, treatment plan, and physical abilities by a CETI Cancer Exercise Specialist. Before starting any exercise regimen, cancer patients should consult their healthcare team to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for their specific situation.
In summary, incorporating regular exercise into the routine of cancer patients can have a wide range of positive effects, including improved treatment tolerance, reduced side effects, enhanced immune function, better psychological well-being, and potentially even improved treatment outcomes.