Prior to Ira’s glioblastoma (GBM) diagnosis in July 2020, our weeks were filled with indoor and outdoor activities. Fortunately, neither the craniotomy nor the chemo/radiation treatments have impacted Ira’s ability to perform traditional exercises like walking and strength training, or fun activities like downhill skiing, hiking in the mountains, snowshoeing at altitude, or swimming in the ocean. Ira has remained determined to maintain his quality of life.
Ira’s first step was to take periodic walks around the post-surgical floor of the hospital. Before being discharged from the hospital, my Apple watch accumulated more than six miles. After returning home, we instituted a daily routine of walking a minimum of 30 minutes a day, weather permitting. We frequently take hikes lasting several hours.
While we consider overall fitness to be just one of our cancer fighting strategies, I was curious to see whether researchers have investigated the link between physical activity and the well-being and longevity of GBM patients. While there are an abundance of studies focusing on healthy individuals and people with more common cancers, researchers have spent far less time examining whether exercise has an impact on the GBM population. Lack of funding, minimal interest in the topic, and a relatively small group of active GBM participants are plausible reasons why this subject has been neglected. The fact that researchers have not devoted much attention to this topic should not dissuade anyone from adding enjoyable exercises into their weekly schedule.
Consistent exercise has shown remarkable benefits for other cancer patients by enhancing the quality of life, reducing the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, improving brain function, minimizing fatigue, reducing the likelihood of depression and anxiety, relieving episodes of insomnia, adding muscle strength, improving bone density, expanding range of motion, strengthening the immune system, increasing appetites, and maintaining healthy weight.
Two of the healing factors— taking control and exercise— highlighted in Kelly A. Turner’s award-winning book, Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds, can be accomplished when GBM patients take the initiative to set up an exercise routine.
Since each GBM patient’s journey is unique, it is not possible to create a one size fits all approach to exercise. Some people respond favorably to the treatments while many other GBM patients have serious repercussions which may prevent or limit them from engaging in physical activity. Hopefully, the takeaway points from the articles summarized below will motivate GBM patients to get off the couch and start moving at whatever level is possible. Read More