Sally Singer Horwatt, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist 

1800 Town Center Drive

Suite 216

Reston VA 20190-3238

Cancer and Exercise

Wednesday, October 20, 1999

This article is one of a series of radio spots prepared by Sally Singer Horwatt, Ph.D. for 
WAGE 1200 AM RADIO

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During the fall and winter of 1996 and 1997, after surgery to remove a cancerous testicle, the world-clss cyclist received chemotherapy. Between bouts of chemotherapy, even as he was losing muscle, he rode. After therapy, he rode some more. Then last July, a fully recovered Armstrong won the most prestigious event in cycling….the Tour De France. 

Armstrong told a congressional hearing that restoring himself to health was less than 10% physical. "The big part is the psychological factor," he said.

It is well known that cancer and it's treatments, surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, are associated with reductions in the quality of life, such as depression, anxiety, and loss of a sense of control, as well as decreased strength and fatigue.

Kerry S. Courneya reports in the February, 1999 issue of Rehabilitation Psychology published by the American Psychological Association that physical exercise may ameliorate both the emotional and functional difficulties experienced by both cancer patients and survivors. Staying active while cancer is in an early stage helps people retain quality of life and retard loss of strength and endurance, even though they are chemotherapy and radiation.

Although Courneya's studies were primarily about breast cancer, testicular cancer and colorectal cancer were included. Some people whose cancer has spread to the bone or who have lost bone density as a side effect should consult with their doctor.

The field is too new to be able to tell if people who exercise will life longer than those who do not exercise. The new research looks so promising, however, that the American Cancer Society is revising its exercise recommendations.

Courneya says that, based on his research, if his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, he'd recommend exercise.
 

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