A new study, led by a professor at MD Anderson, reveales that a simple home exercise regimen offers the same health benefits to survivors of cancer, regardless of their body mass index (BMI).
Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., a professor of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson led a team of scientists in conducting an examination of a longitudinal study on the dissimilarities among obese and normal weight survivors of endometrial cancer during the implementation of a home exercise scheme. The study lasted 6 months, and took into account the subjects’ behavior, level of fitness, vital signs, body measurements and quality of life to identify areas of contrast. The study is currently published in the Journal of Gynecologic Oncology.
According to Basen-Engquist, lack of regular physical activity partnered with obesity can predispose anyone to a myriad of health conditions. It’s important to note, however, that these risk factors are very well within the individual’s control. She said that nearly 60% of endometrial cancer cases can be prevented by routine physical activity and maintenance of a healthy body weight, and that taking on a regular exercise routine after receiving treatment for cancer can enhance recovery time and one’s overall health status.
This study included the participation of 100 survivors of endometrial cancer, after a minimum of 6 months since their last treatment. These survivors’ diagnoses ranged from stage I to III, and were evaluated at the start, 2-month, 4-month, and 6-month marks of the study’s recommended exercise regimen. They were also asked to keep on an accelerometer for the initial week of the
program, in order to allow the researchers to track the amount of movement. The periodic evaluations also included laboratory tests, questionnaires, and exercise records.
According to the researchers’ records, about 64% of the study’s participants were obese and had a BMI of 30 or higher. Despite these individuals’ more apparent symptoms of inactivity, when compared to the remaining, non-obese participants, they still managed to show vast health improvements during the study’s exercise program. Basen-Engquist had led a pioneering study on comparing obese and non-obese endometrial cancer survivors’ levels of cardiorespiratory fitness.
The study’s results showed that all of the survivors, regardless of their BMI, reaped the health-improving rewards of regular exercise, including enhanced functionality, stamina and a reduction of pain. There was no noticeable disparity between the amount of improvement in all the participants’ quality of life, proving the team’s proposition that exercise benefits anyone and everyone, regardless of one’s body weight.
The team hopes their first-of-its-kind research will promote healthcare professionals’ emphasis on making lifestyle changes that incorporate regular physical activity, and that individuals – whether well or sick – will see the exercise’s impact on disease prevention and recovery.