Physical Activity When You Have Prostate Cancer

From the WebMD Archives

Physical activity can have lots of benefits when you have prostate cancer, from improving your mood to fighting fatigue. It doesn't mean you have to run a marathon. Look for small ways you can move around more, and talk to your doctor about what kind of exercise is right for you.

Ease Your Treatment Side Effects

If you're getting hormone therapy for your prostate cancer, exercise can help with some of the side effects, which are similar to those that women get during menopause.

"Over time, the potential problems are essentially the same," says Manish Kohli, MD, a professor of oncology at the Mayo Clinic. These include "osteoporosis, hot flashes, quality-of-life issues with sexual libido, and weight gain. In order to get away from this, it's very important to be physically active."

Strength training can help build up lost muscle mass, and Kegel exercises can improve problems with peeing.

Improve Your Treatment Options

It's important to keep up your fitness throughout life. Research suggests that physical activity activates certain genetic pathways in your body, which can help improve how well medicines work for you, Kohli says. "If a man is fit, his ability to take the latest treatments later in life is better."

Keep the Pounds Off

Physical activity can help you keep your weight under control. According to a study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the risk of dying from prostate cancer is more than double in obese men diagnosed with the disease, compared with men of normal weight. Obese men who have cancer that's limited to a specific area have nearly 4 times the risk of their cancer spreading.

Beat Fatigue

Feeling tired often goes along with cancer treatment. It's due to a combo of things, including anemia, chemotherapy and radiation side effects, depression, and the cancer itself, says Michael Carducci, MD, a professor of oncology and urology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

It sounds like it defies common sense, but exercise is a good way to get rid of fatigue. Research shows that people with cancer who exercise regularly have 40%-50% less fatigue than those who don't.

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Boost Your Mood

Physical activity can help keep your spirits up. "When people are faced with thinking about treatment for cancer, there's a lot that feels out of control," says Heather Cheng, MD, PhD, director of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic. "Exercise can be so valuable in terms of how people feel about themselves."

What Kind of Activity Is Best?

The ideal Rx for exercise includes three parts: an activity like a brisk walk to get your heart pumping, strength training such as lifting weights to build muscle, and stretching to keep your muscles and joints limber.

If you weren't physically active before your diagnosis, start slowly. Depending on your fitness level, begin with a 10-minute walk on a treadmill or in your neighborhood, and work your way up to 30 minutes, 5 days a week or more.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on December 11, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer."

Manish Kohli, MD, professor of oncology, Division of Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic.

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance: "Exercise for Men with Prostate Cancer," "The Impact of Diet & Exercise on Prostate Cancer."

Michael Carducci, MD, professor of oncology and urology, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network: "Fighting Cancer Fatigue," "Exercising During Cancer Treatment."

Heather Cheng, MD, PhD, director, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic.

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