In the new study, a team led by Siobhan Phillips of Northwestern University in Chicago tracked outcomes for more than 51,000 early stage prostate cancer survivors in the United States, who completed a survey about their quality of life.
Many of the men reported having urinary and bowel problems, erectile dysfunction and other sexual function problems, as well as weight gain, fatigue and depression.
The men also provided information about the average amount of time per week they spent walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming and playing sports.
I am a big believer in exercise for overall wellness, and as this study has pointed out, for the management of prostate cancer," said Dr. Ash Tewari, chair of the department of urology at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.
According to the study, three hours of "casual" walking per week boosted the men's health-related quality of life by reducing fatigue, depression and weight issues. Walking at a faster pace for 90 minutes a week provided similar benefits, the team found.
The findings were published April 16 in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship: Research and Practice.
"This study shows that you don't have to engage in high-impact, vigorous activities to improve your quality of life after a prostate cancer diagnosis," Phillips, a kinesiologist and assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern, said in a university news release.
"Since many prostate cancer survivors might find vigorous activities hard to stick with, the good news is that simply focusing on walking more may be enough to make them feel better," she added.
Tewari agreed. "Exercise, before and after prostate cancer treatment has the potential to speed recovery, mitigate complications, allow for optimal handling of medication, and impact long-term survival," he said. "In my practice, we have also seen facilitation of earlier recovery of sexual function."
Exercise has many other positive effects, Phillips noted.
"Cancer survivors have a higher risk of other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease," she said. "Walking may also potentially increase survival and impact their quality of life by preventing the onset of those other conditions."