New guidance from exercise oncology experts recommend systematic use of an "exercise prescription" by health care workers and fitness professionals in designing and delivering exercise programs that aim to lower the risk of developing certain cancers and best meet the needs, preferences and abilities of people with cancer.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) convened the roundtable of experts from 17 partner organizations, which included the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute-;part of the National Institutes of Health, to review the latest scientific evidence and offer recommendations about the benefits of exercise for prevention, treatment, recovery and improved survival.
With more than 43 million cancer survivors worldwide, we have a growing need to address the unique health issues facing people living with and beyond cancer and better understand how exercise may help prevent and control cancer.
This esteemed, multidisciplinary group of leaders on the forefront of exercise oncology aimed to translate the latest scientific evidence into practical recommendations for clinicians and the public and to create global impact through a unified voice."
Katie Schmitz, Ph.D., FACSM, ACSM Immediate Past President
Schmitz had co-chaired the roundtable.
"These recommendations are designed to help cancer patients incorporate physical activity into their recuperation, and they're an important reminder that all adults should strive to be as physically active as their abilities allow for cancer prevention," said Alpa Patel, PhD, senior scientific director of epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society.
The new evidenced-based guidance and recommendations include:
- For all adults, exercise is important for cancer prevention and specifically lowers risk of seven common types of cancer: colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, bladder, esophagus and stomach
- For cancer survivors, incorporate exercise to help improve survival after a diagnosis of breast, colon and prostate cancer
- Exercising during and after cancer treatment improves fatigue, anxiety, depression, physical function, quality of life and does not exacerbate lymphedema
- Continue research that will drive the integration of exercise into the standard of care for cancer
- Translate into practice the increasingly robust evidence base about the positive effects of exercise for cancer patients
The comprehensive review and recommendations are outlined in three academic papers published today in two scientific journals. "Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors: Consensus Statement from International Multidisciplinary Roundtable" and "American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable Report on Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Cancer Prevention and Control" published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, ACSM's flagship research journal.
The third paper, "Exercise Is Medicine in Oncology: Engaging Clinicians to Help Patients Move through Cancer," was published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a flagship journal of the American Cancer Society.
Health care and fitness professionals should use the new recommendations when creating exercise programs for cancer patients and survivors. This includes formally and systematically using custom exercise prescriptions that best meet the needs, preferences and abilities of individuals living with and beyond cancer.
Fitness professionals can obtain the Cancer Exercise Trainer certification collaboratively developed by ACSM and the American Cancer Society. Additionally, professionals and scientists should continue research that will drive the integration of exercise into the standard of care for cancer.
To implement the recommendation for translating evidence into practice, ACSM and its Exercise is Medicine (EIM) initiative also introduced a new program, Moving Through Cancer.
The clinician-focused program aims to ensure that all people living with and beyond cancer are assessed, advised, referred to and engaged in appropriate exercise and rehabilitation programming as a standard of care. Resources are available for oncology clinicians and patients, including a global, searchable registry of exercise programs at www.exerciseismedicine.org/movingthroughcancer.
Alpa, P. V. et al. (2019) American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable Report on Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Cancer Prevention and Control. Medicine & Science. doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000002117.