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Is Personal Training the Best Way to Tackle Cancer Cells?

By Ellen, published on 17/10/2017 Blog > Sport > Personal Training > How Fitness Training Can Lower your Risk of Cancer

“It is proven that doing sports reduces the risk of developing breast or colon cancer by 25%. Moreover, if practised regularly and intensely enough during treatments, it can reduce the risk of recurrence by 50%.”

So it would appear that doing sport throughout one’s life is an excellent cancer drug. After all, exercise has always been crucial to a healthy lifestyle, being beneficial in the fight against all sorts of chronic illnesses. For example, exercise is really good at lowering your blood pressure.

In 2014 in the UK, it was estimated that there was over 356,000 new cases of cancer. According to a research study, cancer is the leading cause of premature death before the age of 65 in both men and women, accounting for 38% of male deaths and 47% of female deaths during 2004-2008.

Nowadays oncologists are no longer just experts in chemotherapy, but they are also a kind of exercise coach, as being in good physical shape inevitably helps fight the effects of cancer.

To prevent the recurrence of cancer in a person who has previously suffered, sport and exercise is recommended – simple day-to-day activities won’t be enough.

Physical activity is proven to help fight cancer Decrease the risk of cancer recurrence with sports! Photo via VisualHunt.com

Medical professionals would recommend to start relatively intensive sports training in order to avoid even the slightest risks of a patient’s cancer coming back.

When a person has successfully fought their cancer, this is known as remission, as it is uncertain whether the cancer could still come back. In this article, Superprof looks at the effects of sports coaching on the risk of cancer recurrence.

What Level of Sports Coaching is Necessary?

The cancer is characterized by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in certain areas of the body. Cloned cells acquire characteristics similar to healthy cells, and divide indefinitely into the body.

Some cells also migrate to other areas of the body, causing growths to develop and cancer to spread quickly and widely. For this reason, the later a person has a cancer screening, the more difficult it is to treat the cancer, and the greater the risk of recurrence.

This is why it’s important to follow a health plan for physical activity, supported by a healthcare team, with the expertise of a specialised fitness coach.

During the course of the disease, patients can experience inflammation as a result of cytokine secretion, resulting in mental and physical fatigue.

Cytokines are cellular signalling substances synthesized by cells of the immune system: in other words, these substances play an active role in development, immune response, inflammation and reproduction. They therefore also take part in cancerous cell division.

Cytokines contribute to the destruction of the muscles in a person suffering from cancer. It’s been proven that one of the best treatments is exercise and fitness training to build-up and strengthen muscles. 

By reducing the level of cytokines in the blood, physical activity will effectively fight against the feeling of fatigue while at the same time working to strengthen muscle, which is necessary to avoid conditions such as sarcopenia.

If it is difficult, patients can start from small and gentle efforts, practising physical activity that they feel comfortable and confident with before building up to anything more advanced or strenuous.

Find a sport that works for you, and work at it! Building up from small efforts is often the best way to begin! Photo credit: Sole Treadmill via VisualHunt.com

It should also be noted that weight gain would add a high risk factor for recurrence and further illnesses. To facilitate weight loss, a fitness coach will be your new best friend!  You’ll find that combining physical activity and a healthy lifestyle will only be beneficial in your fight against cancer.

So what kind of coaching can help to treat cancer? Could training like a top athlete be adapted to oncology and healthcare?

Since the spring of 2016, a regional cancer research centre in France has been conducting an innovative experiment in the field of oncology: some patients are physically and mentally trained and treated as if they were high-level athletes.

The results are so convincing that the University of Marseilles will even create an onco-coaching diploma at the beginning of the academic year 2017. The objective – named Rebond – is to encourage people in remission to do intensive sports to avoid recurrences.

The knowledge and expertise of high-level sports teachers could therefore be invested into the field of specialised medicine!

Studies to Show the Benefits of Exercise Classes in Fighting Cancer

So we know now that physical activity is really important in the treatment of cancer, from the smallest of efforts to a full-blown training programme. This helps to limit the risk of recurrence for all types of cancer.

It is scientifically proven that sustained and regular physical activity helps to:

  • Prepare the body for treatments
  • Limit postoperative complications
  • Fight against fatigue
  • Increase the chances of survival

As long as the criteria of intensity, regularity and frequency prescribed by your personal trainer are met, sport can also reduce the side effects and toxicity of cancer treatments.

Studies of colon, breast and prostate cancer have shown that regular sport and exercise reduces the risk of recurrence by 50% and facilitates a return to social, family and professional life.

With the issues of psychological trauma and social stigmatization, it can be really difficult to regain a normal life after dealing with cancer.

An American study carried out in 2007 by the National Institute of Health (NIH) looked at how 252,925 men and women showed “an inverse association between the level of physical activity and the risk of cancer mortality.”

So as people did more exercise, the risk of cancer mortality lessened. This shows us that the more active the individual is, the better the chances of beating the disease.

A French study published in 2014 called VICAN2 follows the lives of 4349 patients two years after their cancer diagnosis, and presents the benefits of physical activity in avoiding recurrence.

They confirmed that sports practice helped them to:

  • Fight against decreased muscle mass
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Rebuild social lives and fight feelings of isolation
  • Improve body image and self-confidence
  • Combat the risk of depression

Lastly, a 2013 study carried out on 11 children with cancer demonstrated that the sports and physical activity program implemented by personal trainers had a positive impact on both the physical and psychological health of the children.

Exercise Could Help Avoid Cancer Recurrence

No one can dispute the therapeutic benefits of fitness training programmes to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

We all know that exercise is good for us, but what’s best is to find a personal trainer near me to train with you either at home or in the gym, with coaching adapted to your particular physical capabilities.

Win the battle against cancer Exercise is an incredible therapy to fight off cancer. Photo via Visual hunt

The relaxation of the muscle tissues allows for the secretion of dopamine, melatonin and serotonin – neurotransmitters that improve sleep, recovery and general happiness and well-being. This is why exercise is also helpful in fighting depression and anxiety.

These hormones will help to limit the growth of tumour cells and strengthen up the immune system.

Don’t worry – personal training does not mean sculpting your body like a top athlete! Even minimal training will help to fight against fatigue and will help to support immunotherapy or chemotherapy treatments.

When it comes to exercise, the world is your oyster! Why not give some of these a try?

  • Running
  • Fitness classes
  • Weight training
  • Cardio training
  • Stretching
  • Squatting
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Boxing
  • Zumba
  • Swimming

With a personal trainer specialised in cancer treatment, you will work on resistance and endurance to achieve your own personal goals.

Scientists from the University of Copenhagen have carried out some research to back this up. When observing mice with lung cancer, they saw that physical activity significantly reduced the size of the tumours they presented.

There is, therefore, an enormous and observable influence of exercise on tumours: in active mice, their tumours reduced by 50%, contrary to those that remained sedentary.

There are specialist organisations in the UK offering sports therapy as cancer treatment with specially-qualified trainers. Organisations such as Can Rehab develop and structure physical activity to suit the individual and their needs.

During exercise the body released adrenaline, which allows healthy cells to tackle cancer cells, thus increasing chances of recovery.

Researchers at the University of Toronto conducted a study on preventing the risk of recurrence after breast cancer. The study shows that, among physical activity, nutritional care, and no tobacco or alcohol, it is exercise that has the most substantial effects on the road to remission.

Inspiration from Some World-Class Athletes

Sportsmanship is actually quite similar to the fight against illness: in both cases you’re in a fight against yourself, you have to defeat your opponent and come out a winner. And winning once means you’ve got a good chance of winning again.

There are many top athletes who have won their own battles against the disease, such as:

  • Lance Armstrong, world cycling champion and seven-time winner of the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005, defeated testicular cancer with metastases in his abdomen, lungs and brain from 1996 to 1997 until his complete remission
  • Eric Shateau, US Olympic swimmer was diagnosed with cancer a week before the Beijing Olympic games. He went to Beijing and nearly made it to the finals of the 200-meter breaststroke. This didn’t end Shanteau’s athletic journey, and he won his battle against cancer.
  • Karen Newman, the seven-time American triathlete was diagnosed with breast cancer. During the two-year period of her diagnosis, Newman continued to train with Team USA, then going on to receive radiation therapy. She even races in the World Championships right in the middle of her chemotherapy, and now leads a healthy, cancer-free life.

So there you have it! Numerous studies and encouraging stories of survival showing us that cancer really can be treated with exercise. Speak to your doctor to find out what kind of activity plan would suit you and your needs.

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