Exercise as a prescription therapy for breast and colon cancer survivors
Giorgio Galanti,1 Laura Stefani,1 Gianfranco Gensini2
1Sports Medicine Center, 2Department of Medical and Surgical Critical Care, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
Background: Breast and colon tumors are the most common types of cancer in the general population. As a result of improved diagnosis and treatment, more people are now surviving cancer. Lifestyle has been identified as one of the potential risk factors for cancer, and it has been demonstrated recently that physical activity reduces the physiological and psychological symptoms and side effects of chemotherapy. Muscular atrophy, weight changes, decreased aerobic capacity, fatigue, and depression are the most common symptoms in cancer patients. The exact amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity needed to overcome these effects has not yet been established, but an individualized and variable exercise program as prescription therapy could be considered a helpful tool for improving quality of life. This paper proposes a model of lifestyle analysis and dedicated individualized exercise programs for the treatment of cancer patients. The program starts with a preliminary evaluation of the patient’s lifestyle using a questionnaire and accelerometer, which provides information on the amount of daily physical activity and number of steps taken, as well as an assessment of aerobic capacity, cardiovascular response, muscle strength, and resistance. Two different levels of aerobic exercise, ie, low-to-moderate (40% of maximal heart rate) to moderate (60% of maximal heart rate) can be prescribed. This model of exercise prescription in patients with cancer offers a flexible program for assisting in the management of this complex disease. It is projected to ensure easier management of medical problems related to cancer, and to attract a greater number of participants over time.
Keywords: physical exercise, therapy, breast cancer, colon cancer, lifestyle
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