Researchers at Kansas State University have shown that regular, moderate exercise improves tumor oxygenation, which alters the tumor’s surroundings in a way that make it easier for radiation treatments to destroy cancer cells.
The mechanism they described is that the increased cardiac output as a result of exercise carries more oxygen to the tumor both during and after exercise. Oxygen makes cancer cells more sensitive to the therapies such as radiation.
In addition to the demonstrated benefits of exercise on maintaining muscle mass, improving appetite, decreasing fatigue, and reducing some of the adverse side effects of treatment such as nausea and constipation, this research strengthens the case for the use of exercise as a concurrent therapy during traditional cancer treatments.
The researchers emphasize that moderate exercise is more effective than exercise that is too easy or too hard. Moderate exercise is at the effort of a brisk walk. Exercising at too hard of an effort can have detrimental effects on both the body and tumor blood flow.
A cancer exercise trainer can help you determine how much, how often, how long, and what type of exercise is ideal for you based on your individual treatment plan and your current fitness level after your oncologist determines that it is safe for you during your treatment. Always consult with your oncologist before beginning any exercise program during cancer treatment.