A group of experts has released a set of guidelines stating that regular exercise can help prevent cancer as well as help people undergoing cancer treatment. And they recommend about 30 min of aerobic exercise 3 times a week and strength training 2 to 3 times a week
Most Experts say exercise can also help prevent cancer by reducing inflammation, keeping weight under control, and boosting the immune system.
How much exercise?
The researchers recommend that people with cancer do 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity 3 times a week and strength training such as weights 2 to 3 times a week.
Schmitz said originally the researchers looking into that question sought to find out if there were specific “doses” of exercise that could be tailored to different people with cancer.
But the 30 minutes 3 times a week recommendation seemed to work pretty universally.
They still ended up with their goal of being able to “prescribe exercise like a drug,” Schmitz said. “Just turns out that it’s, say, 600 milligrams for everybody, if you will.”
In terms of cancer prevention, the recommended general physical activity guidelines are at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.
Why exercise works?
Patel, lead author of the paper that covered the prevention aspects of the new guidance, said how exactly exercise affects cancer prevention is severalfold.
That includes exercise’s effects on reducing inflammation, helping regulate blood sugar and sex hormones, and improving metabolism and immune function.
“Depending on specific cancer, one or more of those mechanisms may be more important than the others,” he said. “So, for breast cancer, the benefits of exercise are really driven through the impact on sex hormones.”
“It can also affect cancer development or risk through reducing obesity, a risk factor for many cancers,” said Dr Crystal Denlinger, an oncologist at the Fox Chase Cancer Centre in Philadelphia and chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s panel on survivorship guidelines.
She told Health line that the exact reasons why exercise affects certain cancers in different ways still need additional research.
The current recommendations do vary a bit based on personal history, Denlinger noted. But, she said, “at this time, there is no one ‘best’ exercise — anything that gets you moving and active is good.”