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Feeling the Benefits of Exercise?!

Serious black man running on embankment

WOW! And also, of course, WOW spelled backwards! Do you remember in my January column where I declared this would be the year of exercise? Turns out I had a 50% chance of being right, and so far, so accurate! The Exercise during Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer (ERASE) trial published their updated results and BAM! (I like to use exclamation points for excitement)!!! They were nothing short of awesome, fabulous, and should serve as an example of why exercise needs to be part of your and your partner’s prescription when dealing with prostate cancer. 

This incredible group of researchers from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada randomized 52 participants to an exercise regimen (high-intensity interval training) or usual care. The physical benefits and details I discussed in a previous column, but I was waiting for the mental health or ancillary benefits to be published.  Here is what they found in the exercise group, and now first brace yourselves because not much really happened (Moyad sarcasm alert #224) except a reduction in prostate cancer-specific anxiety, a reduction in the fear of cancer progression, stress reduction, reductions in fatigue, and improvements in self-esteem! 

Basically, it was only a 12-week study, but that is the beauty of it! The mental health benefits were nothing short of spectacular! Are you surprised? You should be surprised, simply because getting the funding in prostate cancer (along with the enthusiasm) to conduct such a study is not easy, and that is why this group of researchers should be given a unique prize, or at least a puppy (sorry puppies)! Something that really says “thank you” for doing this! Research has suggested for a long-time that exercise provides a mental health boost, or benefits that simply do not get the attention they deserve because, for the longest time, the focus was primarily on the physical health benefits. Well, things have now changed my friends! 

Dealing with cancer is not easy, whether you are the person that has it, or the partner sharing in the experience. We need to constantly think of ways to boost or improve our mental health as we age, regardless of our circumstances. I like to run daily, and this has saved me a fortune because, otherwise, I would probably buy one of those expensive “squeeze me when stressed” toys at least once a week. My wife would tell you that I am just a better, happier, and more wonderful person after I go running (hey, what about better looking?). This is part of the reason people always proclaim that they “never regret a workout,” especially after it is done. Look, I often get the question of whether I believe exercise can fight prostate cancer, and I think so, but I am not certain.  What I am certain about is that wherever you are in your prostate cancer journey, exercise could improve your mental wellness, but also could reduce the risk of numerous side effects from cancer treatment which, again, can even further boost your mental health. In other words, “feeling the benefits of exercise” will get more attention thanks to this wonderful study. 

Sorry, but I must end this column now and go for a run because, not only is this the year of exercise, but I want to keep my blissfully healthy and optimistic attitude! Want to join me?! Wait, but first before we go, I need to find some puppies!

  1. Kang D-W, et al. J Urol 2022; 207: 814-822.