Active Seniors

Prostate cancer and exercise

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in Australia, with over 20,000 new cases being diagnosed and approximately 3,300 deaths annually. This number of deaths is very similar to the number of women who die from breast cancer. It is most common in senior men with the risk increasing as you age.

Exercise plays an important role in improving quality of life for people with prostate cancer as it can reduce symptoms, side effects of radiation and drug therapy, improve psychological health and even reduce the risk of death.

Growing research suggests that a regular exercise program can reduce the risk of getting some cancers and even a better prognosis if cancer is diagnosed. Research has been done with regard to prostate cancer that suggests that those completing a regular exercise program may be less likely to get an aggressive form of the disease while another study found that men who walked faster (5.3-7.2km/h) before the diagnosis of their cancer had a better prognosis than those who walked slowly (2.4-4km/h), due to having more regularly shaped blood vessels in their prostate tumors. Research published in 2011 concluded that both non-vigorous and vigorous exercise lead to a lower overall mortality of men with prostate cancer. They found that men who walked at 90 mins per week at a normal to brisk pace had a 46% lower risk of mortality than those who walked less or at a slower pace. This study further showed that men who were exercising vigorously for greater than three hours a week before and after diagnosis had the lowest mortality risk.

Some of the side effects of prostate cancer treatment include urinary incontinence, fatigue, weight gain, muscle and bone loss and reduced testosterone levels. These side effects can be closely related to developing other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A structured and specific aerobic and strengthening exercise program can help to decrease the effects of these symptoms and improve quality of life.

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