Physical Activity as Medicine
Article contributed by Tammy Adams, R.N.
As a kick start to 2020 I invite you to look at what you are currently doing to maintain your health and what you might add this next year.
In October of 2019, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) expert panel reviewed more than 1000 research studies and released updated recommendations for physical activity related to cancer prevention and survivorship. The evidence for the following benefits of physical activity was overwhelming:
30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week improved:
- Quality of life
- Physical function
- Bone health
Strong evidence also indicates that physical activity is associated with longer survival in breast, colon, prostate and possibly other cancers.
These findings led the panel to initiate a “call to action” for oncology care teams and primary care providers. These doctors were strongly encouraged to advise cancer survivors to become physically active and also refer cancer survivors to either healthcare provider supervised physical activity or to community or home programs. These are their suggested physical activity recommendations:
- Moderate intensity of aerobic exercise 3 times a week, up to a total of 2.5 to 5 hours a week
- Resistance exercise 2-3 times a week
Want to increase your physical activity?
- Discuss with your health care provider
- Be realistic in expectations- take into account your activity level prior to treatment
- Start slowly to let your body make the changes it needs to accommodate
- Recognize that creating a new habit takes time and commitment
The ACSM report also suggests that a supervised, tailored exercise program for 8-12 weeks is beneficial in managing side effects of treatment. These programs may be offered through your healthcare provider or through your community.
- Cancer Rehabilitation with a Physical Therapist-A physical therapist will look at your cancer and treatment related physical limitations and devise an individualized plan. Limitations may be lymphedema, surgical or radiation scarring, site specific pain or others.
- American College of Sports Medicine Moving Through Cancer exercise program registry may help you find an exercise program near you. Check out https://www.exerciseismedicince.org/movethruca
- Livestrong at the YMCA-Support for Cancer Survivors includes cardiovascular exercise, strength training, stretching and balance work, www.livestrong.org. Watch for more details on this program in future weeks!
- Silver Sneaker Programs-Instructors are trained in exercise for senior citizens, www.silversneakers.com
- Mayo Clinic Cardio-Oncology Exercise Program-meet with a cardiologist that specializes in exercise prescription for cancer survivors. This may be a onetime visit or a month of unlimited exercise.
- Mayo Clinic Slaggie Family Cancer Education Center in Rochester, MN offers a class entitled “Toolbox for Wellness: Physical Activity and Cancer”
Set a goal and share it with other members online in the Cancer: Managing Symptoms group. Research shows sharing fitness goals with friends helps you stick to your program and reach your goals big and small.
What are you doing for physical activity now? Have you found supportive exercise programs where you live? What can you do today to become more active?