Is physical exercise recommended for cancer patients?

We all know that practicing sports on a regular basis is, along with balanced nutrition and avoiding toxic habits such as smoking or the consumption of alcohol and other substances that are harmful to our body, one of the fundamental pillars to enjoy good health. Thus, we can affirm that sport is beneficial for both the body and the mind, without reaching extreme cases in which the situation is reversed, since all physical activity taken to the limit can cause some type of disorder.

For several years now, the relationship between the sport practice with certain pathologies, such as cancer. The doctor. Guillermo López Vivanco, Head of the Medical Oncology service at the Quirónsalud Bizkaia Hospital, explains that it has been shown in studies carried out in very large population groups that, in some tumors, the practice of exercise or sport has a preventive effect on their appearance. In fact, “it is especially beneficial to the breast and colorectal cancer and, it appears, it could also be effective for lung and endometrial cancer. “

We start from the basis that any person with a positive mental and physical situation will have a better chance of recovering from any disease, including any type of cancer, than a person who is not in the same condition. “A better physical condition it is usually accompanied by a good psychological situation and helps us face the disease and the challenge posed by treatment. “In addition, generally, people who practice some physical activity or sport tend to lead healthy lifestyles and have a better condition for cope with this type of disease.

But how do we get it started? It should be noted that a cancer patient You can do physical exercise, but it should always be a controlled activity that is based on your clinical situation, your disease and your treatment. “We are not talking about putting on a pair of shoes and going out for a run”, emphasizes Dr. Vivanco, “but about doing a series of exercises that are monitored, regulated and monitored by professionals in this specialty.

Presurgical physical activity has been scientifically proven to help alleviate the negative effects of surgery

For years, a follow-up and regular regimen of the chemotherapy has been carried out, mainly in patients undergoing chemotherapy. practice of aerobic activities three days a week, combined with resistance exercises, and it has been found to improve the quality of life of patients. “Improvements are observed in subjective toxicity, that is, it reduces fatigue and loss of appetite, for example. What does not improve is the toxicity of drugs on the blood, leukocytes or red blood cells”, explains the specialist. This practice is fully incorporated into the care activity in cancer patients in countries such as Australia, where programmed exercise is prescribed during treatment and once it is finished.

The oncologist continues: “it has also been scientifically proven that presurgical physical activity can help alleviate the negative effects of surgery, thus maintaining normal functional capacity and muscle strength as much as possible. In this way, it is possible to reduce pain, depression and fatigue. “It can also help reduce postoperative pulmonary complications and the time of hospitalization of the patient.

After finishing the treatment, Dr. Vivancos stresses that “it is common, especially in patients who have undergone chemotherapy, that at the end of the treatment they lose cardiorespiratory function and one way to recover it is to carry out a programmed and progressive exercise according to your possibilities. This will improve your cardiorespiratory capacity and reach a range of normal practice in regard to this vital function for our body. What’s more, it also serves as a beneficial effect because they will feel better physically and emotionally. “

In this sense, there are programs that focus on raising awareness about the importance of sports practice while viewing a pathology that affects more people in the world every day. It is the case of Pelayo Life Challenge which, since 2015, brings together every year women willing to give hope to all those who are in the same struggle that they successfully went through, facing different sporting challenges. This year, the five participants in this adventure will sail around the Iberian Peninsula in three stages. They left Bilbao on October 12 and will finish in Barcelona on October 26, after two intermediate stops in Malaga and Valencia. A challenge in which the Quirónsalud Group repeats for the fifth consecutive edition as an official medical provider, after having participated in the Trasatlántica 2016, Polar 2017, Annapurna Bike 2018 and Los Andes 2019 editions.

In conclusion, we can affirm, without a doubt, that sport can prevent the appearance of cancer, in addition to helping to improve during the treatment period and maintain a good health once this disease has been combated, thus avoiding the risk of relapse.

* El Confidencial, in collaboration with Quirónsalud, presents a series of articles with practical information, advice and recommendations for practicing sports that improve our health and well-being. If you have any questions about this topic or want more information, you can contact him Quironsalud Bizkaia Hospital.

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