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Workouts a Boon for Breast Cancer Patients
Date:9/6/2007

Exercise, yoga improve quality of life, even chemotherapy compliance, studies find

THURSDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Exercise may be the last thing breast cancer patients want to do, especially if they're fatigued. But workouts can improve quality of life, boost self-esteem during a difficult time, and even help women get through their chemotherapy treatments on schedule, two new studies find.

Previously, numerous studies had found that exercise can help prevent cancers. "A newer area is looking at it on the post-diagnosis side," said Kerry Courneya, a professor and Canada research chair in physical activity and cancer at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

Courneya led one of the new studies, in which he found that regular exercise helped women who survived early-stage breast cancer to improve muscle strength, self-esteem, body mass, fitness, and reduce their body fat.

He recruited 242 women with breast cancer, average age 49, who were beginning their chemotherapy regimen. They were assigned to one of three groups: 82 to a resistance-training exercise group, 78 to an aerobic exercise group and the other 82 to "usual care," in which they were asked not to initiate an exercise program but were offered a program after the study ended.

The exercise groups worked out under supervision for one hour three times a week for 17 weeks. "They did this while undergoing chemotherapy," Courneya said.

"Our concern initially was that exercise might interfere with their ability to complete the treatment," Courneya said. "The concern among nurses and doctors was that patients would be too drained" after workouts.

The opposite turned out to be true. "The most novel finding we had was, those who did the weight [resistance] training actually increased their ability to complete chemotherapy on time," he said. "It was an unexpected finding."

Courneya said 78 percent of those in the resista
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