Combining cardio, resistance training best for people with breast cancer

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Scientists from the University of Alberta found that regular exercise during and after chemotherapy improves the quality of life and reduces cancer-related symptoms.

They confirmed that the benefits of exercise for breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy wear off quickly once they stop.

But they also showed that patients prescribed a training regimen with a resistance-training component were more likely to continue exercising once their treatment ended.

In the study, 301 breast-cancer patients were put through varying exercise programs in an effort to identify the optimal exercise mix.

The Combined Aerobic and Resistance Exercise (CARE) Trial compared a thrice‐weekly standard dose of 25–30 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise on an exercise bike, a higher dose of 50–60 minutes of aerobic exercise, and a 50- to a 60-minute combination of aerobic and resistance exercise.

The exercise programs, which ran for about five months, began within a week of starting chemotherapy and continued for three weeks after the last treatment.

After the initial course of monitored exercise, participants were encouraged to keep exercising but were left to their own devices. The team then followed up with them at intervals of six, 12, and 24 months.

They found engaging in combined exercise during chemotherapy spurred increased exercise participation rates after chemotherapy, as well as higher muscular fitness in the long term.

In fact, roughly half of patients who underwent the combined fitness program were still meeting the resistance training portion at the six-,12- and 24-month follow-up, while only one-third of patients prescribed high-dose aerobic exercise were meeting the resistance guideline.

The team also noted that patients who took part in the combined exercise outpaced their high aerobic counterparts in upper-body muscular endurance at 12 months.

Regardless of the exercise intervention group, participants who consistently participated in regular exercise, especially combined exercise, after chemotherapy had a relatively better quality of life, lower cancer-related symptoms, and higher fitness levels.

Taken together, these findings suggest that combined exercise during and after chemotherapy may be optimal for breast cancer patients.

If you care about breast cancer, please read studies about heart drugs that could help treat breast cancer, and common blood pressure drugs may increase the death risk in breast cancer.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies about diet soda drinkers had lower colon cancer death risk, and results showing a high-fiber diet may help you live longer.

The research was published in the International Journal of Cancer and conducted by Ki-Yong An et al.

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