Embracing a 30-minute walk schedule or a short yoga session every day can cut cancer risk or its recurrence, researchers found.

Oncologists have long highlighted the importance of fitness activities to help cancer patients achieve strength, endurance and functional abilities and improve overall health. A set of studies presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) focused on the effect of yoga and brisk walking on cancer patients.

"It was: 'You're sick, take it easy and rest'. Now, medical professionals are increasingly advocating for patients to resume physical activity, even if it means starting slowly and gradually," Dr. Melissa Hudson, a leading expert in cancer survival, said at the conference held in Chicago, The Guardian reported.

The first study analyzed the impact of yoga on mitigating body inflammation, a condition that can contribute to tumor growth and metastasis. The participants – 500 cancer patients with an average age of 56, who had undergone cancer treatment within the past two months to five years – were divided into two groups. One group practiced yoga, while the other attended health education classes. Both groups engaged in 75-minute sessions twice a week for four weeks.

When blood tests were conducted, researchers found that cancer patients who engaged in yoga experienced a notable decrease in pro-inflammatory markers compared to those in the second group.

"Our data suggest that yoga significantly reduces inflammation among cancer survivors," the study authors wrote in a report, according to GiachinoPlasticSurgery.com.

"What I say to doctors is you should recommend to them [cancer patients] yoga as an option and you should help them find places in their community where they can do it," lead author Karen Mustian noted.

In the second study, researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Centre found that yoga had a positive impact on fatigue and quality of life in elderly cancer patients. The study involved 173 participants, aged 60 or older, who attended yoga or health education classes twice a week for four weeks. Yoga was found to be effective in relieving fatigue and maintaining quality of life in them.

In the third study, which was conducted in Brazil with over 2,600 cancer patients, it was found that staying active can help reduce the risk of death. The study classified patients based on their activity levels – those who engaged in regular walks for at least 30 minutes, five days a week were considered active. After six months, 90% of the active group was still alive, while only 74% of the sedentary group survived.

Dr. Jurema Telles de Oliveira Lima, who led the study, recommends cancer patients to perform light chores instead of lying down.

"We also have to educate the family," she added. "Because it's very common that the family wants to protect the older person when they have cancer, like: 'I'm not going to let him do anything or go anywhere.' We have to tell the family that it [physical activity] can be best for the patient and also on a psychological level as well."

Yoga, Exercise, Fitness image.
Light yoga can decrease mortality risk in cancer patients. lograstudio / Pixabay