Exercise during treatment may help cancer patients recover - research

Cancer patients who exercise regularly may have a greater chance of improving their outcome, Swedish research has found.

A Kiwi breast cancer survivor backs this research up.

Hannah Thomas-King was diagnosed with breast cancer at 28 and underwent 18 months of treatment.

"There were times when I was very exhausted especially when I first started chemotherapy," she told Newshub.

"I had a lot of fatigue, the inability for me to walk from the couch to my bench."

Exercise for her was another form of treatment.

"Your cells are dying, so when your cells are dying you also have to get rid of all that stuff as well, so exercise really helped with that," she explained.

"Not just to flush the chemo but all the toxins that come along with having all that stuff as well."

Swedish researchers have been looking at just how exercise helps cancer patients.

Exercising activates the metabolism of the immune system which improves the attack on cancer cells, it has found.

ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie says exercising can also help people tolerate treatments.

"It can actually help people tolerate heavier or shorter treatments which is particularly important because some of these treatments can be really unpleasant and the more it can be condensed is really important."

Physical activity is becoming an important component of treatment and living with chronic illness.

"It usually helps to kind of reduce symptoms it might make," Auckland University senior lecturer Stacey Reading said.

"Just being able to do more things more easily and prevent the disease from getting worse. It won't cure the disease but make it slow the progression of the disease and make it easier to live.

"With cancer, there is cancer-related fatigue, fatigue issues related to treatment with things like this, so having a good physical fitness you can achieve under the condition is supposed to help with fatigue and make living with the condition easier."