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Cancer survivors live longer with exercise

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DEAR JIM: I am a cancer survivor – 3 years now – and I am having a problem with my oncologist. We have always enjoyed a good working relationship until now, and I respect his advice, but lately he has been “pushing my buttons” the wrong way by insisting that I be more physically active. I have regular checkups with him every four months, and I am getting tired of the nagging. I just don’t see what exercise has to do with my post-cancer treatment. Should I change doctors or am I wrong about this? What do you think? NAGGED IN NEWARK

DEAR NAGGED: Let me get this straight: the same doctor who has been with you before, during, and after your cancer, the same doctor whose advice you say you “respect,” tries to convince you to exercise to enhance your recovery, and you want to bolt for the door. What is it about exercise that you hate so much that you would sacrifice your relationship with the man who may have saved your life?

For your information, exercise has long been proven to extend the lives and improve the quality of life – for people with or without cancer, so why should it not work for cancer survivors too? It does.

A study by Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health shows definitively that male cancer patients who expend more than 12,600 calories per week with increased physical activity are 48% less likely to die from any cause and 49% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease following their cancer follow-up.

In other words, if you follow your doctor’s advice, you are likely to live longer and better. Sounds like a pretty good tradeoff to me. Rather than “fight” your doctor, why not find some form of physical activity that you can enjoy, and you’ll both be happy. He might be a nag, but he's trying to do you a favor.

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