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Prescriptive Physical Exercise for Prostate Cancer

Overview of Exercise & Prostate Cancer

  • Physical exercise is medicine for cancer; everyone needs a daily dose for prevention and co-treatment.
  • For prostate cancer, we know that physical exercise of three or more hours a week with vigorous-intensity lowers the risk of prostate cancer death by 61%.
  • Prescribed exercise is essential for prostate cancer patients to live longer and better after their diagnosis and despite the stage and grade of disease.
  • A prescriptive exercise is a form of physical exercise prescribed by a healthcare practitioner with a therapeutic goal of slowing down the progression of disease and considers intensity, type of exercise, duration, and frequency in their recommendations.

What is the best physical exercise for prostate cancer?

  • The best physical exercise for prostate cancer depends on the individual’s baseline fitness level, whether there is bone metastasis involved, and if the person is on hormone deprivation therapy (also known as androgen deprivation therapy or ADT).
  • While some form of exercise is better than nothing, the focus should be on the type of physical activity that yields the most return.
  • Exercise prescription for prostate cancer patients should consider numerous elements: baseline fitness, grade and stage of prostate cancer, and how much you like to exercise.
    • How much do you like to exercise
      • A recent patient admitted recently, “I hate to exercise, but I do it anyway.” Some people enjoy the gym, going for a long run, or bike outdoors.
      • They enjoy the mental health of exercise as much as the physical benefits.
      • But if you are not there yet and wake up eager for your next workout, you want to do the activity that yields the most results with less time, even if you “hate to exercise.”
        • In other words, aim for efficiency in your physical exercise – the maximum intensity in the least amount of time that gets the best results.
          • HIIT and weight resistance training (also known as weight training or strength training).

What is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and How Does it Help with Prostate Cancer?

  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), also known as Interval Training (IT) or High-Intensity Interval Exercise (HIIE), is a type of exercise where you perform an all-out, high-intensity exercise for about 10 to 30 seconds followed by low-intensity or rest period for about 2 to 3 minutes, 5 to 8 times or so.
  • A HIIT workout can last as little as 10 minutes or as long as 60 minutes.

How Does HIIT Improve Heath?

  • HIIT is effective in insulin, blood sugar regulation, and fat loss – all-important to combat cancer and prevent a slew of health problems
  • Practicing HIIT also helps us live longer. If these are not good enough reasons for you, HIIT helps men live longer and better after prostate cancer.

How does HIIT help with prostate cancer?

  • HIIT type of exercise may slow down or reverse prostate cancer 
  • A study of a group of men with prostate cancer on active surveillance showed that men who exercised three days a week for 12 weeks had a significantly slow PSA velocity (suggesting prostate cancer regression) compared to men in a control group (usual lifestyle practices).
  • Most impressively, researchers examined all participants’ blood before and after the start of the study, distributed it in a dish of prostate cancer cells, and noticed more regression in the exercise group compared to the control group.
  • The HIIT program that helped prostate cancer patients included:
  • a five-minute warm-up,
  • Two minutes of a sprint or close to a sprint, followed by a 2-minutes recovery walk-down eight times.
  • Lastly, there was a 5-minute cooldown.
  • The total time with the HIIT program is about 52 minutes.

What should you do?

  • First, change your mindset if exercise is not your thing.
  • Physical exercise is a must for anyone with prostate cancer trying to live their best life despite the disease and works in conjunction with diet, good sleep, and targeted nutraceuticals.
  • Physical exercise help after prostate cancer treatment as well.
  • Even a brisk walk three hours a week produces a 57 % lower risk of prostate cancer recurrence after prostate cancer treatment.
  • If you enjoy aerobic exercises, say, long runs or long walks, go for it. Don’t stop. Just do it at a good pace, about 3 miles-per-hour or so.
  • There are physical and mental benefits to aerobic exercise.
  • When you feel your fitness level has improved, transition into a HIIT workout thrice a week.
  • Men on hormone therapy (also known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT)) should include weight resistance training two to three times a week.
  • This will not only have cancer benefits but will help keep strong bones and muscles, improve physical energy and retain strength despite the treatment.
    • If possible, get a personal trainer for guidance.

How to do a High-Intensity Interval Training workout?

  • Technically speaking, any activity that requires you to increase your heart rate and reduce your heart rate is HIIT.
    • Even going up a flight of stairs is considered HIIT. Most exercise machines like stationary bikes and elliptical machines have an interval program in them.
  • Find the interval button, set your fitness level, and go for it.
  • Another way of interval training is by jogging or running fast (“running fast” is different for everyone and depends on fitness level) for 10 to 30 seconds and then walking at a slower or strolling for one to two minutes.
    • Do these five to eight times, three times a week.
    • There are different HIIT programs available, but this is the primary gist – go all out to about 90% of your full capacity with any physical movement, then bring it down for one to two minutes at a slower pace, 5 to 8 times.
    • This method of training can take a total of 15 minutes.

The Bottom line on Physical Exercise and Prostate Cancer

  • Choosing, planning, and practicing an exercise program is as important as choosing the best surgeon for a prostatectomy. Think of it as medicine for prostate cancer.
  • The most challenging part is putting on your exercise gear and getting going.
  • Once you are out there, you’ll enjoy it if you can.
  • Incorporate HIIT and strength training as soon as possible
  • It is not meant to be easy, but no essential results are easy.


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