Regular exercise can lift the black cloud of depression from cancer survivors, claim researchers.
The first study of its kind found patients who did at least three hours activity a week were more positive and had a better quality of life.
The study funded by Macmillan Cancer Support showed long-term benefits of supervised physical activity for cancer patients during treatment and beyond.
Fighting fit: The study showed long-term benefits of supervised physical activity for cancer patients during treatment and beyond
Women who took part in an exercise programme during treatment for breast cancer five years ago now averaged three hours twenty minutes more physical activity each week than similar patients who were not encouraged to exercise.
Researchers at the Universities of Strathclyde and Dundee led the study published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship (must credit).
Altogether 203 women took part in the original 12-week supervised group exercise programme during treatment for early stage breast cancer and 87 were reassessed at the five-year follow up.
The results of the study showed that the women who were more active consistently experienced lower levels of depression and increased quality of life compared to those who were less active.
Beating depression: 200 women were given a 12 week programme during early treatment for breast cancer
Dr Anna Campbell, Lecturer in Clinical Exercise Science at the University of Dundee, who led the research team, said ‘This is the first study to follow cancer patients five years after a randomised controlled trial to determine if there are any lasting benefits of the exercise intervention.
‘The results were much more positive than we had expected - with evidence of lasting benefits of increased positive mood and more active daily living.
‘In particular, the women given the group exercise intervention were still achieving on average 50 to 350 minutes of extra physical activity per week compared to the controls - and this could most likely provide considerable health benefits to these cancer survivors.
‘Qualitative data from the two groups five years later suggest that the women who were part of the exercise group were now more independent exercisers and were not limited by as many barriers to exercise as the women who had not been allocated to exercise during treatment.
‘These independent exercisers possibly experienced an increase in confidence through the behaviour change programme’ she added.
Laura Simm, 52 from Lochwinnoch in Scotland, took part in the exercise programme whilst undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer.
She said ‘I’m not a gym person but it felt really good during the classes and afterwards I felt immediately better, brighter and cheerier in myself.
‘Ever since I took part in the programme I have endeavoured to do something every weekday morning. I’ll go for a brisk walk and a bit of a jog for around 4-5km five times a week as well as some swimming.
‘The most beneficial thing for me about taking part is how it helped me mentally. I suffer from fatigue, but find being active outside in the fresh air is really therapeutic and makes me feel more positive.
Elaine McNish, Physical Activity Programme Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said ‘This latest research provides yet more evidence of the benefits of physical activity for people living with cancer during and after treatment.’
‘Macmillan’s Move More campaign is calling for health professionals to talk to cancer patients about keeping active.
‘In order for them to be able to signpost people to local services, we want public health commissioners to commission physical activity services for cancer in the same way they do for heart disease.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2224624/Exercise-help-cancer-survivors-beat-depression.html#ixzz2AhUbWrmo
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