Benefits of exercise

Why exercise? What are the benefits? Research continues to emerge demonstrating that people with cancer who exercise can greatly increase their chances of survival. Consider these results:
  • Women who participated in any moderate-intensity recreational physical activity, such as brisk walking, after breast cancer diagnosis had an approximately 64% lower risk of death than inactive women. More
  • Colorectal cancer patients who increased their activity levels before diagnosis had an approximately 50% reduction in both colorectal cancer-specific and all-cause mortality. More
  • Colon cancer survivors who walked 6 or more hours per week at an average pace showed a 47% improvement in disease-free survival compared with inactive patients.More
  • In one study spanning over 30 years studying almost 15,000 women, those who engaged in moderate and high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness demonstrated a 33% and 55% lower risk, respectively, of dying of breast cancer. More
  • A study of women with breast cancer who were physically active and consumed at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day dropped their 10-year mortality rate by half. More
  • The total number of treatment sessions (physician visits) for women with breast-cancer-related lymphedema decreased over 60% among women who lifted weights. More
  • In one study, greater increases in survivorship among women with breast cancer occurred among those who performed the equivalent of walking 3 to 5 hours per week at an average pace. More
  • Exercise has been shown to improve body fat levels, lean muscle mass and bone mass. More
  • According to one study, physical activity has an important benefit on survival regardless of how long ago a breast cancer diagnosis was made. More
We receive frequent reports that people who exercise experience improvements in quality of life, pain reduction and energy levels. Consider these reports from Sunflower Wellness clients (from August 2009):
  • "I was diagnosed with breast cancer 2-1/2 years ago and have gone through 3 surgeries, chemo, radiation and a few other treatments. I have tried to exercise through all of it and have found that no matter how much I could or couldn't do, I always felt better. I try to take my walks on the beach or go to an exercise class every day. I know that exercise is key to my recovery, to regaining my strength, to my emotional well-being and to doing all that I can to staying cancer-free and avoiding a recurrence. I want to live a long and healthy life for both myself and for my kids. I really believe that exercise is what will help me achieve all of this."


  • "Exercise has helped me enormously since cancer treatment; in particular, it has all but eliminated the 'chemo-brain' that was so distressing to me. The class at Charlotte Maxwell has me feeling healthier than I have in decades. Because I have a kind of cancer the oncologists tell me will return, it is important to me to stay as fit as I can. Even if I can't prevent a recurrence, I will need to be strong to go through future treatments."


  • "Keeping in good physical condition has been very helpful in the six years since I was diagnosed. When I participate with others (group sessions, etc), I do much better than trying to keep up an exercise program solo. I have been taking an exercise class at Charlotte Maxwell Complimentary Clinic. I was in the pilot class in April 2004 and was very encouraged by my ability to stay as fit as possible in between my two rounds of chemo. Although I am still receiving chemo every three weeks, I feel that it is very beneficial that I stay physically active and as in-shape as possible."


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