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Physical Activity May Ease Pain in Cancer Survivors

physical activity

A groundbreaking study has revealed that physical activity can play a crucial role in reducing pain among cancer survivors. The findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal CANCER, shed light on the positive impact of exercise on pain management.

The Study: Connecting Physical Activity and Pain Intensity

Researchers analyzed data from 51,439 adults without a history of cancer and 10,651 adults with a past cancer diagnosis. Their goal was to understand the relationship between physical activity and pain intensity. The results were consistent across both groups, emphasizing the potential benefits for cancer survivors.

Key Findings:

  1. Reduced Pain Intensity: Participants who engaged in more physical activity reported lower pain intensity. This association held true for both cancer survivors and those without a cancer history.
  2. Similar Impact: The extent of the association was remarkably similar for both groups. In other words, exercise may effectively reduce cancer-related pain, just as it does for other types of pain studied in the past.
  3. Guidelines Matter: Among participants with a past cancer diagnosis, those who exceeded physical activity guidelines were 16% less likely to report moderate-to-severe pain compared to those who didn’t meet the guidelines.

Dr. Rees-Punia’s Insights:

Dr. Rees-Punia, PhD, MPH, from the American Cancer Society, emphasized the significance of these findings: “It may feel counterintuitive to some, but physical activity is an effective, non-pharmacologic option for reducing many types of pain. As our study suggests, this may include pain associated with cancer and its treatments.”

Benefits of Being Physically Active:

Beyond pain reduction, regular physical activity offers a host of benefits:

  • Cardiovascular Health: Exercise improves cardiovascular health, lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.
  • Mental Well-Being: Physical activity promotes the release of endorphins, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. It enhances mood and mental well-being.
  • Muscle Strength: Strengthening muscles and bones improves posture, flexibility, and balance, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.

Guidelines for Physical Activity:

Current U.S. guidelines recommend:

  • Moderate-Intensity Exercise: Aim for 150 to 300 minutes per week.
  • Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Exercise: Aim for 75 to 150 minutes per week.

Empowering Cancer Survivors:

As we continue to explore the powerful impact of physical activity, cancer survivors can find hope in these findings. By incorporating exercise into their lives, they can not only manage pain but also enhance overall health, well-being, and longevity.

Remember, movement is medicine, and every step counts in the journey toward healing and resilience.

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