Walking and cycling can relieve fatigue in cancer patients

People treated for cancer often suffer from chronic fatigue, but regular walks or cycling can increase their energy levels, according to a study study published by the Cochrane Library.

Long-term fatigue in cancer patients is blamed for the disease itself, which is often accompanied by pain, and the effects of treatments such as chemotherapy. Previous studies have suggested that patients may be helped by adequate nutrition, talking to a therapist, and even acupuncture.

Fiona Cramp and her colleague James Byron-Daniel from the University of the West of England in Bristol collected and analyzed the results of 56 studies, which included over 4 people. cancer-related fatigue patients. Some of them were included in the exercise program, and some were not exercising and constituted a control group. Most of these studies have looked at women with breast cancer.

The frequency of exercise and the amount of time devoted to it varied depending on the study – from two workouts a week to daily workouts lasting from 10 minutes to 2 hours. The program of activities was also varied – from walking, cycling, to strength exercises and yoga.

In more than half of the studies, patients either performed different exercises or could choose an activity that suited them.

The analysis revealed that physical activity, both during and after cancer treatment, was associated with higher energy levels in patients.

Aerobic activities (i.e. those where energy is obtained through oxygen-burning processes) – such as walking or cycling – relieved fatigue better than strength training.

Cramp emphasizes that the point is not that cancer patients should suddenly start running, although some will feel well enough that they will be able to go jogging or cycling right away. However, we want to encourage people to start with less effort – noted the researcher.

He adds that the average person will get the benefits of being physically active, but the benefits will be different.

The latest analysis showed that, for example, patients with breast or prostate cancer benefited from exercise, but not patients with blood cancers (such as leukemias or lymphomas). “Some patients in hematology departments may not have enough reserves to always tolerate exercise,” comments Carol Enderlin of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, who is not a co-author of the study, to Reuters.

As haematological malignancies deplete blood cells, these patients’ blood may not be sufficiently able to transport oxygen. Therefore, aerobic exercise or low-dose exercise may be a better option for these patients, Enderlin surmises. (PAP)

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