Does Exercise Increase Prostate Cancer Survival?

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Men who have prostate cancer can significantly improve their survival if they engage in regular moderate to vigorous exercise, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and the University of California, San Francisco. As little as 90 minutes per week of normal to very brisk walking can result in a 46 percent lower risk of dying from all causes for men who have prostate cancer.

Exercise and Prostate Cancer Survival

Researchers from the various institutions evaluated 2,705 men who had nonmetastatic prostate cancer and who had participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Among the men who had survived at least four years after they were evaluated for their physical activity levels, there were 548 deaths, 20 percent of which were attributed to prostate cancer.

The investigators determined that the men who had engaged in regular physical activity had a lower risk of dying from any cause and from prostate cancer than those who had not exercised regularly. Specifically, men who walked at least 90 minutes per week at a normal to very brisk pace were 46 percent less likely to die from any cause when compared with men who walked for shorter lengths of time at a slower pace.

Men who exercised more than 90 minutes enjoyed even better survival. At least three hours per week of vigorous physical activity was associated with a 61 percent lower risk of death from prostate cancer when compared with men who spent less than one hour per week at vigorous activity, and a 49 percent lower risk of dying from any cause.

The researchers concluded that men living with prostate cancer who participate in a modest amount of physical activity may expect better survival, with the best chances of survival seen in men who engage in at least 3 hours of vigorous exercise per week. Examples of vigorous activity may include biking, jogging, swimming, or tennis.


Kenfield SA et al. Physical activity and survival after prostate cancer diagnosis in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. J Clin Oncol 2011 Feb 20; 29(6): 726-32