When I talk to you about exercise, there are two messages I work hard to drive home: First, that literally anybody can do it, no matter what shape they’re in when they start. And second, that consistency is key.
Because the science is clear: Even modest physical activity can blow the most powerful drugs (for virtually any condition) out of the water, so long as you’re doing it every single day. This holds true even for people battling the most fearsome diseases.
And according to one new study, you can include advanced colorectal cancer on that list.
Slow disease progression by 20 percent
This new study showed that patients who had metastatic colorectal cancer—which is largely considered incurable—benefited from slower disease progression with moderate exercise.
And while previous research has demonstrated benefits in patients whose disease hadn’t spread to other parts of the body, this is the first to show the power of exercise in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. So it’s a big deal, to say the least.
The National Cancer Institute sponsored this research, which ultimately included more than 1,200 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Within a month of starting treatment, they reported on their average physical activity over the previous two months.
Using those details, researchers categorized the patient’s activity levels according to weekly metabolic equivalent task (MET) hours. Vigorous activity—like running, biking, or lap swimming—required six or more METs. While lower intensity activities included walking, stair climbing, and yoga.
Over the course of six years, researchers analyzed correlations between exercise and disease progression. And they found a significant difference in the length of time between the beginning of the study and cancer progression with exercise.
In fact, patients who simply walked four or more hours per week benefited from a 20 percent reduction in disease progression or death.
Live better, for longer
Study results also pointed to longer survival times among patients who regularly exercised—but unfortunately, the difference in this department wasn’t statistically significant.
Still, survival time isn’t the only factor that matters, especially when you’re dealing with advanced disease. In these cases, maximizing quality of life is just as important—if not more.
And daily exercise offers exactly that—without risks or side effects.
In fact, physically active patients also tolerated conventional cancer treatment better. And in this study, just 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily was enough to cut severe chemotherapy-related side effects by nearly 30 percent.
If that wasn’t enough, data also showed that regular exercisers benefited from a 15 percent improvement in overall survival (that is, from death by any cause) compared to more sedentary patients.
Once again, the difference wasn’t significant enough to draw any firm conclusions. But I think the takeaway here—especially for metastatic colon cancer patients—is pretty clear.
Get moving every day, like your life depends on it. Because truly, it does… whether the goal is to live longer, or simply to live better.
P.S. I discussed the role of exercise for patients with active cancer diagnoses in the July 2016 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“The next big cancer breakthrough—coming soon to a gym near you?”). Subscribers have access to this and all of my past content. So if you haven’t already, consider signing up today. Click here now!
“Exercise associated with benefit to patients with advanced colorectal cancer.” Science Daily, 08/14/2019. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190814101637.htm)