Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
icons showing dancing, walking, raking, golfing, biking and doubles tennis

Exercising for Prostate Cancer: Before, During, and After Diagnosis

Since I received my biopsy results of Gleason 8 (increased to Gleason 9 after my prostatectomy) on May 3, 2013, prostate cancer (PCa) has been a major factor in my life—both in my quality of life and survival. And while I was a big exerciser prior to my diagnosis, my PCa had a big assist in growing from Agent Orange.

Let’s talk about exercise

Today I’d like to discuss something that helps tremendously with PCa, both in reducing the chances of getting it and increasing our odds of surviving it. And I know the Community Rules don’t allow profanity, but I have to use what many people consider a very dirty word — exercise. For those of us in the north (Patti and I live in New Jersey), summer is right around the corner, which is a perfect time for all of us who’ve suffered through what seemed like an endless winter to start exercising outside.

I do the exercise bike when it’s super cold (below 20 degrees); snowing and/or just icy or raining. I don’t know about you, but an hour on the exercise bike feels 5 times as long as a 6 hour ride (100 miles) outside, but for me doing Sudoku as I ride indoors gets me through it.

How does activity and weight impact prostate cancer?

The first article is from Johns Hopkins (JH) Medicine by Dr. Michael Johnson, a JH urologist, and is entitled, “The impact of physical activity and obesity on prostate cancer”.

The main point in the article looks at the factors that play into prostate cancer. Researchers are realizing that it’s not solely exercise that matters, but also the subsequent weight loss. “Studies have linked obesity with particularly aggressive forms of prostate cancer, and separate research has also connected weight gain with an increased risk of recurrence in men who have already been treated…” explains Dr. Johnson.1

Additionally, the study shows that obesity can also interfere with prostate cancer screening tools, such as PSA tests or digital rectal exams. This can then make it harder to diagnose the disease in its early stages.1

Should you exercise if you have prostate cancer?

The next article on exercise and PCa is written by Carol Michaels, MBA, ACE, ACSM and entitled, “Should you exercise if you have prostate cancer”.

Prostate cancer treatments, like androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), can be brutal physically and mentally. Exercise can help lessen these common treatment side effects, such as muscle loss or osteoporosis, and it can even aid in reducing the risk for diabetes and heart disease. Exercise also has benefits to our mental health, like reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, which are often experienced by men with prostate cancer.

Additionally, the muscle that surrounds the prostate may be weakened from surgery or other treatments which can lead to urinary incontinence. There are varying degrees of urinary incontinence from mild to severe. Speaking personally from experience, none of them are any fun. Exercise can be one way to combat muscle weakness and urinary incontinence.2

Recommendations for moderate activities

The next article that I really like because it gives GOOD recommendations for the levels of exercise we should be doing. I personally disagree with the American Heart Associations’ (AHA) exercise recommendations. Some years ago I read the AHA has such low exercise standards because if they said what we really should be doing, many, many people wouldn’t even start exercising. An article from Zero Cancer, titled “Exercise and Activity“, recommends moderate activities to start, which include:3

  • Walking briskly (about 3 ½ miles per hour)
  • Bicycling (less than 10 miles per hour)
  • General gardening (raking, trimming shrubs)
  • Dancing
  • Golf (walking and carrying clubs)
  • Tennis (doubles)

The article also gives what it calls vigorous physical activities. Please don’t say you’re too old to do this. I’ll be 75 three weeks after writing this blog, and I do 4 miles per hour walking (my back-up exercise) and I do an hour when I walk (i.e. 4 miles and 15 miles an hour on my bike). I’m back up to two hour rides on weekends. However, it’s important to remind you to always talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Read Part II of Exercising for Prostate Cancer – Before, During, and After Diagnosis.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Combat Prostate Cancer with Exercise. Hopkins Medicine. Accessed on June 4, 2019. From https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/prostate-cancer/combat-prostate-cancer-with-exercise
  2. Should You Exercise If You Have Prostate Cancer? Cancer.net Accessed on June 4, 2019. From https://www.cancer.net/blog/2019-01/should-you-exercise-if-you-have-prostate-cancer
  3. Exercise and Activity. Zero Cancer. Accessed on June 4, 2019. From https://zerocancer.org/learn/current-patients/maintain-qol/exercise-and-activity/

Comments

  • Len Smith moderator author
    2 months ago

    Andrea, thanks. (For the ProstateCancer.net crew, Andrea and I “met” at MacularDegeneration.net when I commented on her article on two carotenoids that I personally believe everyone with Macular Degeneration (AMD) should be taking or eating EVERY DAY without fail—lutein and zeaxanthin. I thought I was young to be diagnosed with AMD at 50, but Andrea beats l me by far with a macular condition at 36) (not enviable “records”). But back to exercise, as I’ve said in my articles on exercise for PCa, I firmly believe exercise will help will virtually all diseases, especially the healing after treatments. My articles say it all on exercise from my point of view regarding PCa, but I started my serious bicycling (about 7,000 miles per year) the month before I was diagnosed with AMD. (Up until that age I ran and suffered thru a myriad of muscle pulls each year.) While I haven’t seen much on exercise and AMD, I believe it helped tremendously to get my AMD to “undetectable” by ophthalmologists when I was 65, even more so than I believe it’s helped keep my PSA undetectable. But, like Andrea, I prefer to exercise in the early morning because it virtually guarantees I do it. If I put it off until the afternoon, I would say I do it maybe 2/3rds as much as I do getting up early. And with this oppressive heat we’re having in the Northeast, it’s a LOT MORE comfortable doing it in the AM just as it’s starting to get light out. Len Smith PS – and it sets a good example for your kids. Had lunch with my daughter yesterday. And she’s running her first marathon (she’s “only” done half marathons before 😅) on 9/8/19 to celebrate turning 50 in August. Needless to say, I will be there—and found out yesterday handing her Pedialyte (what else would a pediatrician drink during a marathon 😂?). And my 52 year old son has given up those “easy” marathons for trail running. 🤔

  • jungea
    2 months ago

    Hi, Len! You know that I love this article being a huge believer in exercise for optimal health. I think one of the biggest obstacles with exercising is realizing that it doesn’t necessarily mean obtaining a gym membership and pumping iron (though that can be great if that’s what one wants to do). It’s important to find a form of exercise that is right for our individual needs and enjoyable. Otherwise, it feels like a chore every single time and is harder to keep up with. My favorite form of exercise is walking (used to be running but health issues kind of put a damper on that one). Getting outside in nature, breathing fresh air, getting some sun (in a healthy way of course – sunscreen and sunglasses are a MUST in my house), and just BEING is so beneficial to my physical and mental health. I also prefer to exercise in the early mornings.

  • Poll