EXERCISE AND CANCER By Cord Prettyman, MPT (This is part two of a two-part series)
From WebMD comes this story of a Nederland, Colorado woman who fought cancer with exercise: It was 1993, when 36-year old Julie Main was diagnosed with breast cancer, it didn’t occur to her to stop working out. She felt healthy and strong, so she scheduled her chemotherapy treatments in the morning and went to her step-aerobics class in the afternoons.
Throughout her cancer treatments, she worked full-time, cared for her two young children and managed a trip to Europe. Despite Main’s vigorous schedule, she handled the treatments surprisingly well.
So well, that her doctors wanted to know what she was doing that their other patients weren’t. The answer was simple … exercise.
The November/December IDEA Fitness Journal offers an article touting the preventive and curative powers of regular exercise. Research study after research study is proving what Julie Main knew 14 years ago … exercise is a potent weapon in the battle against cancer.
Just how this works is complex but let me take a shot at the CliffsNotes version. Epinephrine (aka adrenaline) that is released during exercise helps to circulate the body’s natural killer (NK) cells in tumors.
The NK cells move into the blood stream and infiltrate tumor cells causing them to shrink. Numerous studies have confirmed this.
Other hormonal effects of exercise include insulin reduction, an increase in insulin-like growth factor and a decrease in leptin levels. Lowering leptin levels is important because various cancers survive better, grow faster and metastasize more when levels are high.
In addition, scientists studying cancer and epigenetics suspect that exercise switches genes on that have an anti-inflammatory effect helping the body fight cancer cells. Combine that with a meta-analysis of 16 studies showing that regular exercise helped minimize the negative effects of conventional cancer treatment and you have a pretty powerful partner in battling the beast.
The question is what and how much exercise is effective. You can start with aerobic exercise that burns fat.
Approximately, 500,000 cancer cases each year are attributed to obesity. Studies show that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) burns more fat and calories and lowers blood sugar more effectively than moderate exercise.
One study found that a high dose of aerobic exercise of 50 to 60 minutes outperformed both 25 to 30 minutes of cardio and a combination of aerobics and strength training for 50 to 60 minutes. Vigorous exercise also is better at increasing blood flow resulting in more oxygen and immune cells flowing throughout the body.
In short, the paradigm has shifted in the cancer-exercise arena. In the past, mild aerobic exercise was emphasized. Now, the emphasis is on higher-intensity aerobic and resistance training.
Whether you’re interested in cancer prevention, recovering from cancer or are currently battling the beast, the experts say exercise should be a part of your arsenal.
Consult with your Oncologist and primary physician to see if it’s appropriate for you to get started on an exercise program. If you clueless as to what to do, hire a certified fitness professional and experience the miracle of exercise.
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org through his website at www.cordprettyman.com.