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Exercise helps no matter fitness level

ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 31 (UPI) -- Physicians have gone in the last 15 years from being afraid to recommend exercise to cancer patients to advising them to exercise, U.S. researchers say.

Karen Mustian, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and colleagues said when patients walk in the door, they want to know how to tailor exercise to their situation.

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"The scientific community has not settled into a place where we've developed explicit exercise prescriptions, or can effectively narrow the choices for patients," Mustian said in a statement.

Mustian conducted a phase II clinical trial to discover whether six weeks of a home-based exercise plan -- walking and resistance bands -- improved cancer-related fatigue and strength in 58 men, mean age 67, with prostate cancer who were treated with radiation and androgen deprivation therapy. The men ranged in fitness from frail to golfers who were fit and active.

A control group that did no exercise was also established.

Researchers measured cardiopulmonary function via a gold-standard test called Vo2-peak, and also measured muscular strength, and found all exercisers improved while the control group declined in performance.

The most significant information, Mustian said, was that everyone who exercised regularly achieved some added benefit -- even the fittest participants.

The findings will be discussed at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.

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