Research Shows Exercise Helps Cancer Sufferers

New research has established why people who exercise when suffering from cancer generally have better outcomes, according to  ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie. Cancer sufferers who exercise regularly have a generally better prognosis than inactive patients, but science hasn’t understood why exercise helps slow down cancer growth.

The study from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found evidence points to physical activity changing the metabolism of the immune system, which improves the attack on cancer cells.  

"ExerciseNZ is working with the Exercise As Medicine NZ which supports people with health conditions to use exercise so they may live longer and have better lives," said Beddie.

Exercise as Medicine NZ is a charitable trust specialising in exercise for people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, stroke and long-term conditions like cancer, cardiac disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and arthritis. 

“In Australia, oncologists are now recommending that exercise is an essential part of all cancer treatment.

“We would encourage anyone with cancer to talk to their oncologists and then seek out an appropriate exercise programme. Many national cancer organisations now have this process in place, such as Prostate Cancer NZ,” said Beddie.

The Swedish researchers found a possible explanation of why exercise helps slow down cancer growth. During the study, it became clear that cancer cell growth slowed and mortality decreased in a fitter group when compared with the results for the untrained group.