Exercise and Cognition

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

NOVEMBER 30, 2017

You must be almost as tired of this topic as I am, but there continue to be studies and articles that support the value of exercise. Let's be even more clear: they insist upon the value of exercise. By now, we all know about weight control and reduction of fat and improved energy levels and maybe reduced recurrence risks. Today, I am telling you about another presumed benefit.

This study from the University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center looked at women after breast surgery. The finding was the exercise helped clear the brain fog that is often part of the recovery period.

I am extrapolating from these findings (since I am a social worker, bot a researcher or a scientist, I always feel able to do this as long as I am honest about the soft footing) to wonder if these findings would equally apply to recovery from other surgeries or from other body assaults like chemo or radiation. Especially since this study included women up to two years post surgery (who presumably had additional treatments), this seems reasonable.

Here is the start and a link to read more: 

Exercise After Breast Cancer Surgery Clears 'Brain Fog'

Kristin Jenkins

Many women with breast cancer experience problems with memory, concentration, and information processing that can last for years after treatment and that can potentially take a toll on independent living.

Now, one of the first randomized, controlled intervention studies to examine the effects of moderate to vigorous physical activity on cognition in a cancer population shows that increased aerobic physical activity within 2 years of surgery tripled cognitive processing scores in breast cancer survivors on both objective and self-rated tests.

Processing speed, as determined by scores on the Oral Symbol Digit subscale, showed differential improvement in women in the exercise group when compared to those in the control group (b = 2.01; P <.05), say Sheri J. Hartman, PhD, of the University of California-San Diego Moores Cancer Center, in La Jolla, and colleagues in a report published online September 19 in Cancer. Of nine examined cognitive domains, however, significantly greater improvements were observed only with respect to processing speed in the exercise arm compared with the control arm, the study authors point out.
"This study provides preliminary support for the efficacy of increasing physical activity to improve processing speed and, potentially, self-reported cognition in breast cancer survivors," they write. "With the growing interest in testing the potential of physical activity to improve cognition in cancer survivors, this and other studies are likely to contribute .

Read on: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/886157_print

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