nearly 300 patients died.
The report was published online Jan. 6 in JAMA Oncology.
Why are people becoming less active?
According to Alpa Patel, senior vice president of population science at the American Cancer Society, “This report continues to reinforce the important message of being physically active and trying to limit your time spent sedentary, especially in leisure time.”
Technology has dramatically altered people’s lifestyles, and many more folks are now more sedentary and less active.
“It’s not only that we’re exercising less, you actually see more of a displacement of what we call daily life activity or light intensity activity,” she says. “It’s ‘I’m sitting more because I’m not standing and washing dishes or doing other things, other chores around my house.'”
People should strive for 150 minutes to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, Patel says. “But what we’re also learning now is that, even if you’re achieving that, there are still harmful effects of sitting too much,” she adds.
Cancer survivors don’t often get the message that they should be physically active, Patel notes. Part of the reason may be that patients aren’t motivated or don’t feel well, but it’s also because they aren’t encouraged to be active.
“In the clinical care community, what we see is many clinicians still telling patients to conserve their energy to rest, when what we should be telling them is it’s safe to be physically active, and there are a lot of health benefits to being physically active,” Patel shares. “These results support that doing something is better than doing nothing.”
Getting more active
Exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, body composition, fatigue, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, happiness, and other quality of life factors in cancer survivors, according to the American Cancer Society. Studies of people with breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers suggest that cancer survivors that are physically active, maintain a healthy weight and eat right have a lower risk of cancer recurrence and improved survival compared with those who are inactive. You can consult with your doctor about which types of exercise are right for you.