The Link Between Walking and the Health of Cancer Patients

By Carolyn Burtt 

According to a recent study performed by scientists at the University of Surrey and King’s College London, cancer patients experience increase strength, optimism, and a healthier weight after walking for 30-minute intervals three times per week. Although there have been previous studies regarding the role of exercise on the health and wellbeing of cancer patients, the fact that an hour and a half of walking on a weekly basis has such a profound impact on the mental and physical states of cancer patients is particularly important because of the accessibility of this regimen.

Along with the strength derived from exercising regularly also reportedly came more positive thoughts, overall increased happiness levels, and the drive to focus on other aspects of life besides a cancer diagnosis for the 21 cancer patients who followed the walking routine, relative to the 21 control patients who kept up their current exercise schedule. Since cancer treatment generally causes patients to feel less like being active, having an incentive to go outside and exercise such as a group walk could have vast impacts on future cancer patients and their emotional and physical health. In addition, walks taken as a group were shown to be beneficial socially, and added to the motivation of the patients to do regular bouts of exercise.


Vicki Tsianakas, Jenny Harris, Emma Ream, Mieke Van Hemelrijck, Arnie Purushotham, Lorelei Mucci, James S A Green, Jacquetta Fewster, Jo Armes. CanWalk: a feasibility study with embedded randomised controlled trial pilot of a walking intervention for people with recurrent or metastatic cancer. BMJ Open, 2017; 7 (2): e013719 DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013719