Beating Cancer Fatigue

Battling cancer can leave people feeling tired and weak, but new research shows that in just a few minutes a day, many can start getting their energy and strength back.

About 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. After treatment, cancer survivors may have trouble getting back to their normal lives due to fatigue.

A new study finds that physical activity can help bring back their quality of life. Researchers combined the results of 34 earlier studies that examined the effects of physical activity in patients with breast, prostate, gynecologic, colorectal, gastric or lung cancer. During the trials, some survivors were asked to do aerobic exercise while others were not. Some patients’ schedules also involved resistance and strength training.

Among breast cancer survivors, those who exercised had less fatigue, and improvements in blood sugar control and body weight. They grew stronger and their depression shrank and their quality of life went up.

Among people with cancer in general, exercise led to many improvements, including a better body mass index, improved oxygen intake, a better quality of life and the ability to walk farther.

The American Cancer Society urges survivors to check with their doctors before starting exercise. Go just a few minutes at a time if necessary, and gradually increase your activity. Be sure to take rest breaks when you need them and do a variety of activities that improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility.

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