Breast cancer patients are more likely to benefit from Nordic walking – a type of aerobic exercise that is performed with the help of specially designed walking poles – than basic walking, according to a study.
Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women, which is likely to affect an estimate of 12.8 percent women in the world, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The study, published in the European Journal of Cancer Care earlier this month, analyzed the results of nine past studies about the health benefits of this aerobic activity and how it is more effective than other forms of exercises.
During the analysis, the research team looked into the amount of time each of the participants in the previous studies spent on physical activity. They found that most of the participants dedicated 30 to 80 minutes on a day or five days a week for it.
At the end of the analysis, the research team found that Nordic walking played a vital role in improving many of the common breast cancer symptoms, such as upper-body strength, lymphedema, disability, physical fitness and perceptions of swelling and pain.
The researchers also found that some of the previous studies highlighted the positive effects of Nordic walking in improving self-efficacy in managing pain and depression.
“The main strategy in rehabilitation for women with breast cancer is a change of habits, where physical exercise is a fundamental tool,” Jorge Torres, co-author of the study, told Reuters.
“It’s not easy to turn a sedentary person into an amateur athlete, so sports such as Nordic walking are accepted more easily,” Torres, who is a researcher at the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Sports at the University of Vigo in Pontevedra, Spain, added.
The researcher also said this aerobic activity is mostly accepted by many people mainly because it does not require any kind of expensive equipment. Other benefits of this exercise are that it can be learned easily and performed in a group with others, Torres noted.
The researcher explained further that Nordic walking can counteract many of the side effects related to cancer treatment, including postural problems and shoulder-arm mobility, more effectively than basic walking.
This aerobic activity was introduced as part of a summer training exercise in the 1980s and it is widely used for several exercise-based rehabilitation programs in many parts of Europe, especially Northern Europe, since 2000, the researcher noted.
“(Many) health professionals and therapists do not realize that there are contraindicated exercises during breast cancer rehabilitation and that alternatives such as Nordic walking can be very effective,” Torres added.