A new study by researchers at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Centre has found that not only does exercise decrease pain, but also helps breast cancer survivors feel healthier.
The research was based on a group of approximately 60 breast cancer survivors who were randomly placed in a lifestyle intervention group or a standard care control group, that participated in the six-month, 21-session study.
Researchers taught participants to incorporate short periods of moderate exercise into their daily routines, which included 30 minutes of physical exercise at least five days per week.
Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and associate professor of behavioral science at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, said that the lifestyle activity included vacuuming, brisk walking or climbing stairs rather than taking the elevator.
"The wonderful take-away message from this study is that simple exercises, such as walking during coffee breaks or parking further away from work, can have beneficial effects on physical health and functioning. Exercise doesn't need to be a daunting activity or even an organized outing to reap significant rewards for breast cancer survivors," she said.
"We found that exercise improved participants' ability to perform certain physical tasks, increased self reports of feeling healthy and decreased pain and the degree to which their activities were limited by physical health problems," Basen-Engquist added.
The researchers found that participants who received lifestyle intervention training showed significant physical improvement, walking an average of 100 feet further than their control group peers.
Additionally, those in the intervention group made substantial progress incorporating exercise as a habit throughout the day, while the control group only began to make such changes.
The study appears in the journal, Patient Education and Counselling.