Aerobic exercise, particularly a gentle form like cycling and walking, can help with recovery from cancer, a study has shown.
Researchers from the University of Bristol have found that in a study of 2,600 people, many of whom had breast cancer, physical activity both during and after cancer treatment was tied to improved energy. In particular, aerobic exercise such as walking and cycling tended to reduce fatigue more than resistance training.
"We're not expecting people to go out and be running a mile the next day," Fiona Cramp, who worked on the analysis at the University of the West of England in Bristol, told Reuters.
"Some people will be well enough that they're able to go for a jog or go for a bike ride, and if they can, that's great. But we would encourage people to start with a low level."
"What we do know is there will be an appreciable difference; the average patient will get a benefit from physical activity," Cramp said, though the actual benefit will vary.
The results of this study go against the received wisdom about cancer, which generally goes that patients will be very much tired out by treatments including radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and should take it easy to reserve their energy.
Instead, the researchers say, light exercise could be the key to actually increasing energy and wellbeing.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.