A comprehensive survey conducted by the American Cancer Society over a period of 20 years, and including more than 10,000 men between the ages of 50 and 93 has found a correlation between exercise and prostate cancer survival.
The focus of the survey was on exercise levels both before and after diagnosis of prostate cancer in the participating patients, and increased exercise levels were found to be beneficial in both cases.
Those males having the highest levels of exercise activity before diagnosis were 30% less likely to die as a result of the disease, and those males with highest exercise levels after diagnosis had a 34% higher survival rate. It should be noted however, that all these cases involved localized prostate cancer, which means that the cancer had not spread to any other part of the body. Greater exercise was shown to have a very positive impact on the progress of the disease, even after diagnosis.
While the survey did not attempt to delve into the reasons for the effectiveness of exercise in combating prostate cancer, it is known that regular exercise improves a person’s cardiovascular health, as well as the resilience of their immune system in fighting diseases of all types. The same kind of positive findings have been borne out for other types of cancer too, including lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.
Which types of exercise are most beneficial
The American Cancer Society survey described above found that brisk walking for between four and six hours each week was highly effective before diagnosis, although less effective after a diagnosis had been made. Aerobics and resistance training have also shown promise as useful exercises in the fight against prostate cancer, because both strengthen muscle and the body’s overall ability to fight disease.
Among activities considered to be moderate level exercise, bicycling, gardening, dancing, playing golf, and playing doubles tennis are activities which most males can manage to some extent, and receive a good deal of benefit from. For men in better physical condition, more vigorous activities might be engaged in, such as walking at a very fast pace, running or jogging, bicycling at higher speed, swimming, basketball, and singles tennis.
The main idea is to be as active as possible for the level of fitness which a person is capable of. By contrast, males who lead a sedentary lifestyle and engage in almost no exercise have a much greater likelihood of dying from prostate cancer, and of experiencing a more rapid progression of the disease. This also has a huge impact on the quality of life for a person afflicted with prostate cancer, since the more active and involved person will in most cases, enjoy life considerably more than the sedentary individual.
Benefits to prostate cancer patients who exercise
In addition to the main benefit, which is longer life and the greater likelihood of survival, some other notable benefits accrue to the prostate cancer patient who exercises regularly. A reduction in anxiety over the disease, as well as less daily fatigue are very commonly reported by active patients who exercise regularly. Emotional benefits are also realized, for example improved self-confidence and self-esteem, and a more optimistic outlook on life.
Greater muscle strength and endurance are also achieved through regular exercise, and all of this contributes to the maintenance of a healthier weight and an increased ability to tolerate and manage any symptoms associated with the disease. The clear conclusion is that greater exercise can lead to much greater quality of life for a prostate cancer patient, and a longer lifespan is likely to be the ultimate result.