Wall Street Journal Endorses Exercise for Cancer Survivors

Editors at the Wall Street Journal are conservative. That is why yesterday’s WSJ report that promotes exercise for people living with a cancer diagnosis deserves national attention.

WSJ writer Jen Murphy endorsed the following advice and recommendations from Cancer Exercise Specialist Linda Gottlieb, a research associate at the Yale School of Public Health:

     “Exercise offers the cancer survivor a significant opportunity to be a key player in their healing team. Exercise has also been proven to help decrease the chance of recurrence, along with improving quality of life.

     “Improved physical fitness is encouraged to buoy feelings of confidence, promote general feelings of well-being, decrease anxiety, depression and fatigue. Research also supports exercising before undergoing surgery and during chemo and radiation treatment.”

Linda Gottlieb, Cancer Exercise Specialist
Wall Street Journal, August 30, p. D3

In her reporting, Murphy highlights the new physical activity recommendations for cancer survivors published by the American College of Sports Medicine. The guidelines suggest that cancer survivors avoid inactivity, and aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise, plus two to three days a week of strength training. Many are surprised to hear this, because these recommendations are almost identical to those given to adults who are not living with cancer.

The conservatism of the WSJ is evident in the recommendation that previously sedentary people should start, and progress, slowly. Underscores Gottlieb, “For a non-exerciser, being able to walk up the stairs without the fear of falling or being out of breath is a huge accomplishment.” She reminds survivors that sometimes more exercise can be counterproductive. If a survivor is experiencing cancer-related fatigue as a side-effect of treatment, some exercise will frequently increase a survivor’s sense of energy and well-being; too much exercise, however, can be exhausting.

Murphy’s report ends with a recommendation that we hope is embraced by everyone living with a cancer diagnosis:

“(work) with a certified cancer exercise trainer or physical therapist who can help assess individual needs and limitations and create an appropriate and safe exercise prescription.

Jen Murphy
Wall Street Journal, August 30, p. D3

NOTE: The timing of this report may reflect the Sept 1 New England Journal of Medicine article, “Muscling In on Cancer,” by Alejandro Lucia, M.D., Ph.D., and Manuel Ramírez, M.D., Ph.D. The article is part of the Journal’s “Clinical Implications of Basic Research,” edited by Elizabeth G. Phimister, Ph.D. Click here for the entire NEJM article.

Nancy L Howe

I was a daily exerciser and I ate my fruits and vegetables, but in 1997, I was diagnosed with cancer anyway. I experienced first-hand the benefits of physical activity during treatment and beyond. That was my "Aha!" moment. I left my corporate career, earned my masters at Arizona State University studying exercise science, and joined the staff of University of Arizona cancer researchers in 2005. In 2013, I earned my Cancer Exercise Specialist certification from the University of Northern Colorado, Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute, and founded Strong Cancer Recovery. In 2017, I joined the Arizona State University Cancer Prevention and Integrative Medicine research team, and entered the PhD program at ASU's College of Nursing and Health Innovation. My research focus is breast-cancer-related lymphedema, including the preventive and ameliorative benefits of physical activity.