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Researchers reiterate benefits of exercise for cancer survivors

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The benefits of walking for patients who have survived prostate cancer or colorectal cancer are emphasised by two separate studies.

Three or more hours of walking per week can boost the vitality and health of prostate cancer survivors.

“Encouraging men to engage in non-vigorous activity and walking may be helpful”

Siobhan Phillips

Meanwhile, men and women who survived colorectal cancer and were regular walkers reported lower levels of post-treatment symptoms such as burning sensations, numbness, tingling or reflex loss.

In the first study, US researchers from Northwestern University weighed up the benefits of various types and intensities of exercise against a more sedentary lifestyle in around 2,000 prostate cancer survivors.

They found that three or more hours per week of walking helped to improve the hormone functioning and vitality of survivors. A higher hormone score was often associated with fewer feelings of depression or body weight changes, among others.

The effect of exercise was even more notable among survivors who walked more than 90 minutes a week at a normal or fast pace, rather than walking at an easier amble.

“Encouraging men to engage in non-vigorous activity and walking may be helpful for managing prostate cancer-related quality of life,” said lead author Siobhan Phillips.

Findings from a Dutch study also demonstrated the benefits of physical activity. It examined data from 1,648 colorectal cancer survivors.

“Alertness among healthcare professionals and patients for the importance of physical activity is warranted”

Floortje Mols

Colorectal cancer survivors often experience chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy caused by nerve damage, including a tingling or burning sensation in their hands and feet, itching, muscle weakness or a loss of reflexes.

The study, by Tilburg University, showed that patients who did at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week experienced fewer of these symptoms two to eleven years after being diagnosed with cancer.

Those who were less active not only have more such symptoms, but also experienced a subsequent lower quality of life.

“Regular physical activity plays an important role in colorectal cancer prevention, recurrence and mortality,” said lead author Floortje Mols.

The findings from both studies are published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

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