Exercise and Cancer Patient Well-Being - NFCR Blog


Exercise and Cancer Patient Well-Being

Two men do push-ups on their knuckles with extreme focus

Thanks to extensive research carried out by scientists worldwide, cancer diagnoses are increasingly met with positive prognoses. The question of “if” the patient will survive is more often being replaced with “how” they will survive. The privilege of well-being is now being considered more often and weighted more heavily in the process of treatment choice. As a result of this progress, more research is being conducted to better understand the factors in cancer patient well-being.

One finding to emerge is the impact of exercise on patient well-being and quality of life. It appears that the benefit of exercise for cancer patients is multifold. It directly improves health by improving insulin and growth factor levels. The normalization of these levels directly helps reduce cancer growth by interrupting the cancerous tumors’ normal and preferred metabolic pathways. The reduction of tumor size is often experienced with a concurrent increase in energy and mood. As a result, even the physical health improvements are capable of producing changes in well-being.

Exercise generally produces positive changes in body composition, such as fat reduction and increased muscle tone. For cancer patients, exercise is, for good reason, often much more oriented around the retention of strength and function, instead of fat loss. Exercises recommended for many cancer patients tend to be for strength, mobility and balance. These are too oriented for additional cardiovascular benefits, as appropriate.

The result of this type of training is physical competency in lifestyle activities. For example, moving from sitting to standing without needing assistance from the arms. Or walking up stairs without fatiguing. When physical lifestyle is daunting or fear-inducing, patients tend to feel dependent, weak and fragile. Conversely, when physical lifestyle is met with ample strength and endurance, patients are confident, much more self-sufficient and have higher quality of lives.