According to researchers at the University of Texas, exercise during treatment for breast cancer can improve bone mineral density and depression, among other quality of life measures. Roenann Roubenoff, from Tufts University, presented the finding of researchers from the University in Texas. Dr. Roubenoff stood in, as the researchers were unable to present. He felt that exercise dramatically improves depression. It's a nice adjunct to therapy and people can feel empowered as they face their disease. They also sleep better after they exercise. In breast cancer patients, the researchers show exercise can also have a positive impact on bone mineral density.
The researchers studied three groups of women with breast cancer: One group received standard care, one group participated in aerobic activity, while a third participated in resistance training. They were separated into pre- and post menopausal status. The aerobic exercise consisted of walking and/or jogging and the resistance exercise consisted of exercise with a TheraBand. Ironically, researchers found arm strength improved the most in patients in the aerobic exercise group, not the resistance group. The steepest decline in bone mineral density was seen in the control group, while the aerobic exercisers maintained bone mineral density. The resistance group had a small decline but not as much as the control group.
Researchers also note aerobic exercise had the best results on bone mineral density in pre-menopausal women. However, resistance training worked better for post-menopausal women. Past studies on exercise in breast cancer patients support this research and have shown exercise can improve fatigue, anemia, pain and length of hospital stays. Improvements in osteoporosis, depression, sleep, pain and functional status have also been documented.
Dr. Roubenoff reports 60 percent of people over age 55 in the healthy American population don't exercise at all and 75 percent over age 65 don't exercise. He felt that, although cancer patients may be weaker than healthy individuals, frailty is not a contraindication for exercise. Inactivity is really a risk at any age, especially if you have cancer.