The two exercises that can help breast cancer survivors recover faster
Two separate studies recommend running and yoga to help reduce mortality rates and speed up recovery among breast cancer survivors (klohka/shutterstock.com)
Published Friday, January 31, 2014 10:08AM EST
Breast cancer survivors eager to get back on track may want to pump up their workouts after two separate studies found that running outpaced walking when it comes to reducing mortality rates. Likewise, newly published research found that survivors who practiced yoga exhibited lower levels of inflammation and increased energy.
In the first study, published in in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the Berkeley Lab followed 986 breast cancer survivors. Over the course of nine years, 33 of 714 subjects identified as walkers and 13 of the 272 participants identified as runners died from the disease.
When the two groups were analyzed separately, researchers noted that the mortality rate was lower among runners compared to walkers. According to their number crunching, which is based on metabolic equivalent (MET) figures, the runners' risk for mortality decreased more than 40 per cent per MET hours per day.
Metabolic equivalent is the ratio of the metabolic rate -- or the rate of energy consumption -- during a specific physical activity to a reference metabolic rate.
In this case, one MET-hour is equal to a one-kilometer run.
In fact, runners who averaged 3.6 km a day drastically reduced their risk for mortality -- 95 per cent -- compared to those who failed to meet exercise recommendations.
Meanwhile walkers reduced their mortality risk by just five per cent per MET hour per day.
Given the results of their findings, researchers recommend amping up exercise routines to include running and other more vigorous activities to see more dramatic health benefits.
Yoga increases energy, lowers inflammation
For survivors either undergoing or recovering from treatments -- which can be debilitating and exhausting -- consider taking up the less cardio-intense activity of yoga, after a separate study found that practicing yoga for three months can reduce fatigue and lower inflammation among breast cancer survivors.
For the study, researchers from Ohio State University recruited 200 women who had completed their cancer treatments and were categorized as yoga novices. Scientists bill the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, as the largest known randomized controlled trial that includes biological measures.
Women were divided into two groups, one of which was a control group, over 12 weeks. The yoga group practiced 90-minute sessions twice a week and participants were also encouraged to continue at home.
At the six-month mark, three months after participants completed their formal yoga training, on average participants reported that fatigue levels dropped by 57 per cent compared to the control group who went out about their normal routines.
Inflammation -- which can lead to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease -- was also reduced 20 per cent.
"One of the problems they face is a real reduction in cardiorespiratory fitness. The treatment is so debilitating and they are so tired, and the less you do physically, the less you're able to do. It's a downward spiral," said lead author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser.
"That's one reason we think there are higher levels of inflammation in cancer survivors, meaning that an intervention that reduces inflammation could potentially be very beneficial."