• By DeeDee Stiepan

Mayo Clinic Minute: Updated exercise guidelines for cancer patients, survivors

January 21, 2020

Cancer treatment takes a toll on the body. However, incorporating exercise medicine into cancer care reduces some of the side effects. Researchers have developed a new set of exercise guidelines for cancer patients and survivors. In this Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Edward Laskowski, co-director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine, explains the new recommendations and the role regular exercise plays in survival rates and prevention of certain cancers.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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"We really find the effects of exercise, specifically for cancer survivors and cancer patients undergoing treatment, are tremendous," explains Dr. Laskowski. "It helps us feel less anxious. It helps us feel less depressed. One of the key side effects of some cancer treatment is on the heart, and exercise has tremendous benefit for the heart."

Updated guidelines for cancer patients and survivors suggest 30 minutes of exercise that includes resistance training three times per week, for a total of 90 minutes of aerobic activity. That's less than the 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, which is recommended for the general population.

"The principle of the guidelines being a little less for cancer patients is any movement is good movement and cumulative movement throughout the day is very beneficial," says Dr. Laskowski.

Exercise not only improves survival rates in patients undergoing treatment, but also it can help prevent seven of the most common cancers, including colon and breast cancer.

"Exercise is medicine whether you're a cancer patient, a cancer survivor or an able-bodied individual, and the more movement we have throughout our day, the better our health," says Dr. Laskowski.

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