I recently read a study out of Canada where 242 breast cancer patients while on chemotherapy were randomly put into three groups: Resistance training, aerobic exercise training and a control group that did not exercise at all. They measured physical changes such as body mass, percent body fat, etc., all the things you would expect. But more importantly, they reported changes in the patients quality of life, fatigue, anxiety, depression and self esteem. And wouldn't you know it, both exercise interventions significantly improved the self esteem of the cancer patients.
I was so happy to see this. During my undergrad studies in Exercise Science I have read countless studies involving exercise. Its effects on hypertension, diabetes, weight control, pregnancy, asthma, exercise on caffeine, no caffeine, exercise while standing on your head, wearing a Santa suit, while drinking a margarita. Basically I've read a lot of research pertaining to exercise. But HOORAY for this study that looked at something so important: self esteem. Now, I can't even begin to imagine how first of all being diagnosed with breast cancer must effect ones self esteem. But then to have to endure chemotherapy and most likely lose your hair AND possibly lose one or both breasts (41% of the patients in this study had a mastectomy) would be horrible.
So, to see the outcome of this study further manifests the message that exercise is medicine. Image what it can do for people who don't have cancer? I have seen what healthy, safe exercise can do for not only people's bodies, but their minds as well, especially self esteem. I have experienced it myself and seen it happen in others.
And if you are a science nerd like me and would like to read the article, please contact me
and I would be happy to email you the PDF version.
With respect to the researchers who conducted this study, here is the formal reference:
Courneya, K (2007, September 4).Effects of aerobic and resistance exercise in breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy: A multicenter randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 25(28), 4396-4404.