Chalk up yet another benefit for exercise: Physical activity boosts the overall health and well-being of cancer survivors, according to a major new review of nearly three-dozen fitness studies.
Researchers from the University of Hong Kong, writing in the British Medical Journal, analyzed of 34 clinical trials that assessed the effects of physical activity among adult cancer patients after they completed treatment.
Each study included an average of 93 patients who had suffered from breast, prostate, gynecologic, colorectal, gastric or lung cancer. The individuals who participated in the studies – average age: 55 – engaged in aerobic, resistance and strength training.
Overall, the researchers concluded, "quality of life was a clear significant benefit of physical activity and that clinically, there were important positive effects on physical functions and quality of life."
Among their specific findings:
• Breast cancer patients who engaged in physical activity had improvements in blood sugar control, managing their weight and physical functions such as lower limb strength. In addition, they reported less fatigue and depression, and a higher quality of life.
• Patients treated for other types of cancer also had improvements in weight control, physical functions such as oxygen consumption and handgrip strength. They also reported less depression and a higher quality of life.
• The effect of physical activity was greater on younger patients.