Exercise – Found to Reduce Depression amongst Cancer Patients


The first study into the lasting benefits of exercising during cancer treatment has shown regular exercise to reduce depression in cancer patients.

A team of researchers at the Universities of Strathclyde and Dundee looked at two groups of women who were first diagnosed with cancer five years ago.  One group was enrolled on an exercise programme during treatment while the other group was not.

The results of this study, published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, revealed that, five years later, those who took part in the exercise programme engaged in more physical activity than the control group. They also consistently experienced lower levels of depression and increased quality of life than their less active cohorts.

Dr Anna Campbell, Lecturer in Clinical Exercise Science at the University of Dundee, (part of the research team who led the study) said:

“This is the first study to follow cancer patients five years after a randomised controlled trial to determine if there are any lasting benefits of the exercise intervention. The results were much more positive than we had expected – with evidence of lasting benefits of increased positive mood and more active daily living. 

In particular, the women given the group exercise intervention were still achieving on average 50 to 350 minutes of extra physical activity per week compared to the controls – and this could most likely provide considerable health benefits to these cancer survivors”.

The research was funded by charity Macmillan Cancer Support which runs a Move More campaign aimed at encouraging those with cancer to take regular exercise.

Elaine McNish, Physical Activity Programme Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, added:

“This latest research provides yet more evidence of the benefits of physical activity for people living with cancer during and after treatment. Macmillan’s Move More campaign is calling for health professionals to talk to cancer patients about keeping active. In order for them to be able to signpost people to local services, we want public health commissioners to commission physical activity services for cancer in the same way they do for heart disease.”

More details on this study can be found here.

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