New Exercise Guidelines Published for Cancer Survivors

Threshold lowered slightly in light of new evidence

A recent review of research conducted by an international group of experts led by the University of British Columbia has resulted in the development of new exercise guidelines for cancer survivors.

The recommendations published recently in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, outline specific exercise prescriptions to address common side effects, such as anxiety and fatigue associated with cancer diagnoses and treatment.

In general, the new guidelines recommend survivors perform aerobic and resistance training for approximately 30 minutes per session, three times a week. This is a departure from earlier guidelines, published nearly a decade ago, which advised cancer survivors to meet the general public health guidelines for all Americans — 150 minutes of exercise a week.

Exercise has been regarded as a safe and helpful way for cancer survivors to lessen the impact of cancer treatment on their physical and mental health, but the precise type and amount of exercise to treat the many different health outcomes related to cancer treatment hasn’t been clear,” says the paper’s lead author, Dr. Kristin Campbell, associate professor at UBC’s department of physical therapy. “In the absence of this information, cancer survivors were advised to strive toward meeting the general public health guidelines for all Americans — an amount of physical activity that may be difficult for people to achieve during or following cancer treatment.”

The new recommendations are based on a substantive review and analysis of the growing body of scientific evidence in the field. Since the first guidelines were put forward in 2010, there have been more than 2,500 published randomized controlled exercise trials in cancer survivors — an increase of 281 percent.

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