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Nordic walking can be beneficial for breast cancer patients

(Reuters Health) – Nordic walking, aerobic exercise with cane-like canes may be helpful for breast cancer patients, according to a review of existing research.

Low impact exercise improves swelling, physical fitness, disability and quality of life, the study found in the European Journal of Cancer Care.

"The main strategy for rehabilitation for women with breast cancer is to change habits where exercise is a major tool," says study co-author Jorge Torres of the Faculty of Education and Sport at Vigo University in Pontevedra, Spain,

"It's not easy to turn a sedentary athlete into an amateur athlete, so sports like Scandinavian walking are easier to accept," Torres told Reuters Health via email, especially since the activity does not require expensive equipment and can be done in a group. with others and it is easy to learn.

Introduced in the 1980s as a summer workout similar to running on Scandinavian or Scandinavian skiing, Nordic walking became more widespread in the 2000s. It is now part of some exercise-based rehabilitation programs, especially in northern Europe, where it is more common, Torres noted.

He also owns a personal training company, Vigo Entrena, that creates physical activity programs for people with disabilities, including injuries, obesity, pregnancy, postpartum and women with breast cancer, and he specializes in Nordic walking training.

To see if this form of exercise helps women treated for breast cancer reduce side effects such as swelling of the arm and offers other benefits of exercise, Torres and his colleagues analyzed nine studies. Four studies were randomized controlled trials comparing Nordic walking with other activities; other studies focused on the specific effects of Scandinavian walking.

Exercise periods in the studies ranged from 30 to 80 minutes and ran from one to five days a week for up to 12 weeks.

In eight of the nine studies, Scandinavian walking had a positive effect on a number of breast cancer symptoms, including lymphedema, fitness, upper body strength, damage and perceptions of pain and swelling.

Six studies have also shown improvements in depression, self-efficacy for pain management, and improvements in physical activity levels. They found no adverse effects and the study participants seemed to stick to the programs.

The biomechanical gesture of Scandinavian walking, compared to simply walking, seems to counteract some of the side effects that can come from cancer treatment, such as shoulder and arm mobility and postural problems, the study team wrote.

"(Many) health professionals and therapists are not aware that there are contraindications during breast cancer rehabilitation and that alternatives such as Scandinavian walking can be very effective," Torres said.

"Nordic walking is a structured form of physical activity that is nowadays shown to be 'more complete' than basic walking," says Marco Bergamin of the University of Padova, Italy, who did not participate in the study.

"Another important point that is less stressed by these authors is quality of life," Bergamin said in an email. "Nordic walking has huge benefits because breast cancer patients have also survived from a social and psychological point of view that really affect their lives."

Future studies should also look at the intensity, frequency, duration and duration of the exercises needed to help breast cancer patients, said Lucia Kugusi of the University of Cagliari in Italy, who is also not participating in the review.

"The most obvious is the growing interest of the scientific community in tracking patients' needs, interests and preferences," Kugusi said by email. "Offering them new forms of physical activity that are both effective and engaging has become one of the new and stimulating research fields in cancer therapy and treatment."

SOURCE: bit.ly/31GeJ7p European Journal of Cancer Care, online 7 august 2019

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