A study published in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons reports that patients who underwent an operation as part of their cancer treatment and then started a regular walking regimen experienced less fatigue than cancer survivors who did not do the walking program.
The National Cancer Institute reports that chronic fatigue affects up to 96 percent of people being treated for cancer. It's so common that "sometimes it's overlooked as normal and people tend to write it off," said the study's lead author Theresa P. Yeo, PhD, MPH, MSN, associate professor of nursing at the Thomas Jefferson University School of Nursing.
In the study, pancreatic cancer patients were divided into two groups. The usual care group went home with normal discharge instructions that did not include a walking or exercise routine. The other group was charged with walking for increasingly longer intervals each week for three months. Researchers contacted all patients after three months for final reports on fatigue level using standardized survey tools. At the beginning of the study, 85 percent of all patients reported moderate to severe fatigue. Three months after discharge, the intervention walking group reported a 27 percent improvement in fatigue, compared with a 19 percent improvement in the usual care group. The intervention walking group also reported greater improvements in experiencing less pain than the usual care group.
"The beauty of this program is that we're not asking for high intensity aerobics or a target heart rate," Dr. Yeo said. "It's low to moderate intensity and they can sit if they need to. They don't have to push through it if they are not feeling well that day."
If you are gearing up for cancer treatment, in the middle of it, or are trying to get back to everyday life following treatment, a supervised exercise program can do worlds of good. Contact the Survivorship Program to have a fatigue-busting exercise program developed just for you.