Walking and other light workouts may help to extend the survival time of people with advanced colorectal cancer, new research shows.
Those with the condition who performed low-intensity exercise for four or more hours a week saw close to a 20 percent reduction in cancer progression or death, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
“What we found was that people who engaged in some type of physical activity had a statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival,” Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, a researcher at Dana-Farber and study senior author, said in a news release.
For the study, the researchers gave questionnaires to 1,218 colorectal cancer patients who started chemotherapy in the prior month, asking participants about their physical activity over the previous two months. The researchers quantified their answers using the metabolic equivalent task (MET)-hours per week. Vigorous activity included running, biking, tennis, skiing or lap swimming, while non-vigorous activity included things like climbing stairs, walking or yoga.
The results showed patients who exercised more than 18 MET-hours each week had a 15 percent higher chance of survival from any cause. That’s compared to those who exercised fewer than three Met-hours. The researchers, however, acknowledge this difference may be due to chance.
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of death among all cancers in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.