High intensity interval training helps cancer survivors getting rid of fatigue

Modern cancer treatments dramatically increased chances of survival. Cancer is no longer a definite death sentence. However, cancer survivors feel negative effects of the treatment for many years after. Now scientists from the University of Queensland say that physical exercise may help cancer survivors to get rid of fatigue.

Intense physical exercise may help cancer survivors reducing their fatigue levels. Image credit: Viktor Kern via, Public Domain

Intense physical exercise may help cancer survivors reducing their fatigue levels. Image credit: Viktor Kern via, Public Domain

It is true that most people nowadays survive cancer. It is calculated that at least 65 % of people survive at least five years. However, 75-100 % of them experience fatigue, which can last up to ten years after the treatment is over. Now scientists conducted a research, which showed that high intensity interval training is the most effective way to combat this fatigue. This is quite surprising news, because there was a long-held belief that cancer survivors should protect themselves from intensive physical stress and possibility of strains. However, scientist found that bowel cancer survivors can partake in high intensity exercise and experience no serious adverse effects.

There has been debate whether moderate intensity exercising would be better. However, scientists found that those, who started high intensity interval training experienced a large decrease in their fatigue levels, while those performing moderate intensity continuous exercise still had consistently high levels of fatigue. This is the most important reason, why this research is so important – previously health practitioners advised cancer survivors to perform low-to-moderate intensity physical activity and put emphasis on rest. It turns out, cancer survivors have to be much more physically active in order to effectively reduce their fatigue than previously believed.

Scientists tested 52 bowel cancer survivors in this study, therefore, results are reliable only to a degree – more research is needed in order to change the common medical advice. However, as president of Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Professor Mei Krishnasamy said, “are starting to see more research that shows that exercise can also help cancer survivors reduce their ongoing symptoms and improve their odds of longer-term survival”. In other words, exercise should be prescribed to cancer survivors just like any other medicine.

Many people survive cancer, but even after they cannot come back to a normal life. Improving quality of their lives is extremely important. High intensity interval training is a relatively easy way to do that and would bring a large number of other health benefits.