Should resistance exercise become a regular part of prostate cancer treatment?

05 February 2019, Tim Burton - 

Aerobic exercise is established as a useful technique for decreasing fatigue and reducing depression in prostate cancer patients. It is linked with better outcomes for those who have undergone a radical prostatectomy (an operation to remove the prostate) but should resistance exercise be included alongside aerobic exercise?                      

Using a grant from The Urology Foundation, Ruth Ashton at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, has produced research that suggests resistance exercise could be the way forward.

Ruth Ashton Profile SHotA randomised controlled trial to test the impact of resistance exercise

Ruth conducted a randomised controlled trial amongst prostate cancer patients, the majority of whom met the guidelines for aerobic activity as a part of their day to day lives. That group was split into two, with one acting as a control whilst the second group were each given a personalised resistance-based exercise programme.

This group received regular phone support from Ruth and were encouraged to adapt their programme to suit them. This group undertook resistance exercise at home three times a week. The programme was designed to cover each muscle group in the body using a series of TheraBands and included exercises from squats to leg presses, shoulder raises and bicep curls.

The results suggest there are significant benefits

The results of the trial demonstrate that not only does resistance exercise benefit patient-reported outcomes, specifically those related to functional wellbeing and prostate cancer specific wellbeing, it also has several wider benefits.

Resistance exercise was seen to reduce systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol levels, waist circumference and body fat percentage and increase upper and lower body strength and oxygen consumption, and potentially improve endothelial function over the 6 month period, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Resistance exercise was seen to improve a patient’s cardiovascular health, just like aerobic exercise.

There are few risks involved with suggesting resistance exercise to prostate cancer patients, and so there are no significant reasons to avoid doing so. In fact, as most prostate cancer patients will begin to experience age related muscle degradation around that age, it is a good time to begin muscle building exercises.

The suggestion for clinicians

Clinicians should consider including the increased risk of cardiovascular disease and fatigue levels in the discussion when counselling patients about robot-assisted radical prostatectomy.

As well as this, patients should be made aware of the potential benefits of resistance exercise more generally after a robot-assisted radical prostatectomy.

 

If you would like to help us fund more research that makes life better for urology patients, you can donate today.

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