Improving your odds with exercise

by Michelle Fiscus. 0 Comments

A little activity goes a long way in a cancer diagnosis

Most of us know exercise is good for us and we should get more of it. Now, science is proving that being active may be one of the best ways to prevent or help treat cancer.

Within the last few months, two big studies came out on the subject. Both looked at the relationship between exercise, physical activity, body mass index and colorectal cancer.

The first study, which included about 150,000 people, showed a person’s activity level and body mass index correlates to the kind of colon cancer a person developed. Basically, being lazy and overweight meant the tumor was more aggressive.

The second study of 2,300 people showed that people who were more physically active —both before and after their cancer diagnosis — had much better outcomes, and all it took was 150 minutes a week of recreational activity. That’s like taking a 30 minute walk with your dog, five times a week. Engage in that much physical activity and you reduce the risk of dying from the cancer. If you become a couch potato and do not exercise at all, the data shows your risk of succumbing to the disease goes up.

Cancer of the colon is not the only disease being studied. There is consistent evidence from observational studies on breast cancer, too, that show being active increases a person’s chance of survival.

Additionally, you don’t have to exercise at a high intensity to receive the benefits. The studies show a little activity (like the two and half hours of walking per week) is beneficial to prevent and slow the illness.

When most people get a cancer diagnosis, the last thing on their mind is continuing or embarking on an exercise program. But, more doctors need to have that conversation with their patients. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network even suggests exercise can even improve cancer related fatigue, increase endurance and strength, and reduce symptoms.

While exercise will never be a cure, researchers believe that as more studies show the positive association between activity and cancer prognosis, more oncologists will prescribe exercise as a treatment modality to work in conjunction with traditional therapies and increase a patient’s outcome.

If you are suffering from cancer or another serious illness, it may be time to talk to your doctor about exercise. If you get the green light to be active, start off slow. It may seem overwhelming, even pointless at first, but if you can stick to it for a minimum of six weeks then you may find your energy actually increases and you look forward to being active.

Getting up off the couch can improve your mental state as well, which is beneficial to anyone facing their mortality. Whether you walk by yourself, with a dog, or grab a neighbor, it’s something you can do almost anywhere at any time.

If you were active before becoming ill, do not give up. In fact, this is the time to depend on workouts. Make them a positive focus of your day. As long as you get the go ahead from your doctor, there is no reason why you can’t keep up with physical activity.


To find out more about the studies in this article or to have your question answered in a future article, email Michelle at

Michelle Fiscus writes a regular column for Michelle and her husband own a personal training and nutrition business based in Frederick County and hold industry certifications and credentials.

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