For men with prostate cancer, it may seem difficult to forget about the side effects they’re enduring and become motivated to hit the gym. However, exercise is a key component of living a long, healthy life – especially while receiving prostate cancer treatment. Studies show higher survival rates among men with prostate cancer who are physically active on a regular basis, compared with non-active patients with prostate cancer.
Here’s a closer look at the importance of exercise for patients with prostate cancer, and why we at Regional Cancer Care Associates encourage our patients to work out.
The Power of Exercise
You may be familiar with many of the benefits of exercise. But did you know that it can have a direct, positive impact on men with prostate cancer? For instance, certain prostate cancer treatments, such as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), can cause osteoporosis and muscle loss. Exercise, on the other hand, has been shown to improve heart health, bone density, and muscle mass, directly combating the adverse effects of hormonal prostate cancer treatment.
Regular exercise can also prevent obesity, which has been linked with prostate cancer aggressiveness in some studies. Additionally, exercise can lead to a decrease in blood sugar, which in turn can lower insulin and inflammation levels. Like obesity, both insulin and inflammation are linked with prostate cancer risk, meaning that exercise can help reduce your likelihood of developing prostate cancer or keep your disease from worsening.
Of course, the benefits of exercise don’t stop there. Physical activity also offers many positive psychological effects for men living with prostate cancer, such as reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which have been shown to affect men with prostate cancer.
Exercises to Consider
In general, adults should exercise for at least 150 minutes (five 30-minute sessions) per week. Aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, and swimming allow men with prostate cancer to burn calories while maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, by reducing the risk of developing obesity, aerobic exercise can help reduce the aggressiveness of prostate cancer.
Strength training is also important for men with prostate cancer, especially for strengthening the pelvic floor. This group of muscles supports bowel, bladder, and sexual organ function, each of which can be affected by prostate cancer. Kegel exercises have been shown to improve pelvic floor strength, enhancing both continence and sexual function. A Kegel exercise is performed by contracting the pelvic muscles, holding the contraction for approximately 5 seconds, and then relaxing. To build up your pelvic floor strength, repeat this motion about 20 times per session.
Bone health is also important when living with prostate cancer, especially if undergoing ADT. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, stair climbing, and weight training, can help prevent bone loss when performed regularly. Plus, meeting your daily recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D can help keep your bones strong and healthy.
Leading a Healthy Lifestyle
Being diagnosed with prostate cancer can be frightening, but it presents the perfect opportunity to start living a more active, healthier lifestyle. Plus, when you take advantage of the prostate cancer treatment at Regional Cancer Care Associates, you’ll have an entire team of dedicated physicians to support you. If you have further questions about the benefits of prostate cancer exercise, contact one of our locations in Connecticut, Maryland, or New Jersey today.