Don’t feel like you have the energy to exercise? It may sound counter-intuitive, but new research involving cancer patients shows going for a workout can actually boost an individual’s energy levels and combat tiredness and fatigue.
The findings, published in the Cochrane Library journal, are based on an analysis of dozens of studies involving more than 4,000 people that found aerobic exercise helps relieve the fatigue often associated with cancer and cancer treatment.
Traditionally, doctors recommended that people with cancer-related fatigue rest and reduce their activity levels. But long periods of inactivity can lead to muscle wasting and increased tiredness. The new Cochrane analysis found ample scientific evidence that balancing rest with physical activity may help to reduce fatigue in the long run.
Other studies have also tied exercise to a range of other benefits — including increased cardiovascular health, reduced risks of diabetes and cancer, and improved mental-health and immune-system functions.
The new review analyzed 56 studies involving 4,068 people with cancer. The results showed patients benefited most from aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, both during and after cancer treatment.
"The evidence suggests that exercise may help reduce cancer-related fatigue and should therefore be considered as one component of a strategy for managing fatigue that may include a range of other interventions and education," said lead researcher Fiona Cramp of the Faculty of Health & Life Sciences at the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK. "This updated review provides a more precise conclusion, showing specifically that aerobic exercise, both during and after cancer treatment, can be beneficial."