A new study from Taiwan has come forward with the suggestion that walking can help lung cancer patients with regards to improving their sleep as well as overall quality of life. The results from the current research showed that participants who took part in a 12-week spanning home-based program for walking ended up experiencing better quality of sleep even after 3 and 6 months the said program had finished. According to the researchers, the results from the study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, help to support previous similar findings in patients of colorectal and breast cancer.
Chia-Chin Lin, the senior author of the study and a Taipei Medical University nursing professor, said that walking is effective, feasible and safe for cancer patients. Numerous studies have been published by Lin and colleagues related to the links present between quality of life, sleep and physical activity in patients suffering from lung cancer. A lot of such patients experience problems with sleeping when undergoing as well as after receiving treatment. Sleeping problems have been studied to play a role in negatively affecting a person’s quality of life and the prognosis of cancer. Though the survival rates of cancer have improved due to advancement in treatment, the quality of life for such patients needs improvement as well.
In order to conduct the current study, Lin and the team of researchers set up a randomized controlled trial. The team studied a total of 111 patients with lung cancer. Late 30s to early 80s was the age range of the patients. Approximately, stage 1 cancer was present in two thirds of the sample. The team divided the patients into two groups.
One of the groups, having 56 patients, was asked to walk for 40 minutes with moderate intensity at least 3 times each week. Exercise was recorded by this group after undergoing each session. They also participated in exercise counseling sessions that were held on a weekly basis. Wrist monitors were worn by the whole group for collecting objective and subjective sleep data. The data included things such as sleep quality, the onset of sleep time, and total sleep time. The other group, consisting of 55 patients, was given the usual medical care along with the option for exercise counseling after the study ended.
Normally, lung cancer patients aren’t encouraged to participate in physical activities due to the limited and fragile nature of their cardiopulmonary function. However, the current research found out that such patients can benefit from home-based programs for walking for improving their quality of sleep and emotional state. The circadian rhythms were also observed during the study. They were used for measuring the consistency of patients sleeping and waking up at a set time every day. Participants that had a higher level of disturbed circadian rhythms benefited the most from exercise.
Previous research has supported the role circadian rhythms play with regards to a person’s health. These rhythms affect an individual’s sleep, inflammation, metabolism, and heart rate. An altered rhythm can also increase the risk of suffering from numerous chronic ailments.
A limitation of the current study deals with the use of a walking program that is home-based. Such implementation can lead to a bias in self-reported data from participants. The study also didn’t take into consideration the specific point of the circadian cycle at which exercise was performed by patients as it could play a role in affecting the outcomes of their health.