Like all other Americans, cancer survivors should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, according to new exercise guidelines for cancer patients during and after therapy that were released by the American College of Sports Medicine at the group’s annual meeting in Baltimore.
“The first two words of the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ physical activity guidelines for Americans—for all Americans regardless of age —are this: avoid inactivity. That, indeed, is our primary conclusion for this population during and post-treatment,” Kathryn Schmitz, Ph.D, who is the lead author of the cancer recommendations, said at the meeting. Dr. Schmitz is an associate professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a member of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
In fact, “requiring a medical assessment for all cancer survivors prior to exercise…is not recommended by this panel because it becomes a barrier to being physically active,” said Dr. Schmitz. Cancer patients should engage in walking, flexibility activities, and resistance training. The panel stressed that the benefit to cancer survivors from physical activity strongly outweighs the small risks of bony metastases or cardiotoxicity secondary to cancer treatments.
However, exercise recommendations should be tailored to the individual cancer survivor to account for exercise tolerance and specific diagnosis. In addition, clinicians and fitness professionals should pay close attention to cancer survivors’ responses to physical activity, in order to safely progress exercise programs and avoid injuries.
The guidelines will be published in the July issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the ASCM.
—Kerri Wachter, @knwachter on Twitter