Strength training helps cancer patients get back to work
Cancer patients who do strength and cardio training after treatment get back to work sooner. They are more likely to be able to work as many hours as they did before getting cancer, discovered doctors at Maxima Medical Centre in the Netherlands.
More and more people are surviving cancer. Contracting the diseased used to be the equivalent of a death sentence, but nowadays about half of cancer patients are still alive five years after discovering they have the disease. However, many cancer survivors complain of fatigue, or that they can no longer work as much as they did before becoming ill.
Researchers at Maxima Medical Centre discovered a few years ago [Br J Cancer. 2008 Jul 8;99(1):30-6.] that patients undergoing cancer treatment are less tired, and stronger and fitter, if they do 18 weeks of rehabilitation involving cardio and strength training, starting six weeks after their last chemotherapy session. Researchers from the same hospital published in the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation their findings on the effect of strength and cardio training on workplace re-entry.
The researchers contacted the patients three years after their initial diagnosis, and discovered that the patients who had done rehabilitation that included strength training worked an average of 5 hours less per week than before they got cancer, and that 78 percent of them worked as many hours a week as they had before becoming ill.
Patients who had done rehabilitation but no strength training worked an average of 11 hours less per week than before they got cancer. Of them, 66 percent worked as many hours as they had before developing cancer.
In addition, doing training reduced the amount of time before patients were able to resume work.
"In cancer survivors, apart from favorable effects on physical fitness, an oncologic rehabilitation program including high-intensity physical training also results in substantial economic benefits by significantly improving job resumption", the researchers conclude.
J Occup Rehabil. 2012 Jun;22(2):220-9.
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