Walking Towards Health

Walking Towards Health
As the name implies, endurance training (ET) is a prolonged type of exercise (≥10 mins of sustained effort) that has low-to-medium impact on the body. If performed regularly, this form of exercise can induce numerous benefits such as improved metabolism, mitochondrial proliferation, circulation, joint health, mood and memory. This also holds true for cancer patients both during the pre and -post operative phase. ET has been also shown to be more pleasant for cancer patients and easier to adhere to when compared to resistance training (RT) [1]. Even during chemotherapy, ET of modest intensity induces significant increases in leg strength and endurance capacity, but when combined with interval training performed on cycle ergometer the results are even better, indicating a potential dose-response relationship [1]. 

However, the latest evidence indicates that the greatest impact of ET is when it is combined with the resistance training. These findings largely corroborate with physical guidelines for the overall population put forth by the eminent institutions such as the American College of Sports Medicine and Center for Disease Control) who advocate for at least 150 minutes of ET per week and 2-3 session of RT weekly.

Preoperative ET and RT improved physical capacity, muscle strength and some domains of quality of life, shortened the length of stay in hospitals and reduced postoperative pulmonary complications [2]. Postoperative training can also effectively improve both exercise performance and quality of life in cancer patients, but requiring a longer training period when compared to preoperative training [3]. 

In sum, ET is a potent tool to improve cancer patients’ health and fitness regardless of the stage of the disease. Moreover, ET is easy to conduct. There is no need for fancy equipment or gear. Just a simple act of walking can be a great way to meet your weekly PA recommendations. To progress, gradually increase your pace of walking while making sure that the ground is flat and non-slippery. To make it more challenging, find a nearby hill and walk up the hill when you feel confident that you can reach the top. Of course, other forms of ET such as cycling, swimming, running, rowing and hiking are excellent ways to improve your fitness and health overall. Changing types of ET can lead to better adherence overtime while also enabling the patient to target different major muscle groups. To make it more fun, find a fitness partner or join a fitness class which will ultimately make you more accountable towards your fitness goals. Lastly, use your smartphone or smartwatch to track your progress. There are numerous apps that can help you track your fitness goals.

Author: Nemanja Lakicevic

  1. Van Rooijen, S. J., Engelen, M. A., Scheede‐Bergdahl, C., Carli, F., Roumen, R. M. H., Slooter, G. D., & Schep, G. (2018). Systematic review of exercise training in colorectal cancer patients during treatment. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 28(2), 360-370. 
  2. Piraux, E., Caty, G., & Reychler, G. (2018). Effects of preoperative combined aerobic and resistance exercise training in cancer patients undergoing tumour resection surgery: A systematic review of randomised trials. Surgical oncology, 27(3), 584-594. 
  3. Ni, H. J., Pudasaini, B., Yuan, X. T., Li, H. F., Shi, L., & Yuan, P. (2017). Exercise training for patients pre-and postsurgically treated for non–small cell lung cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Integrative cancer therapies, 16(1), 63-73. 

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