Exercise and cancer treatment
Exercise can help you manage through your cancer treatment
Every 4 minutes someone in Australia is diagnosed with cancer. Only 1 in 10 of these people with will exercise enough during and after their treatment (3).
There are many studies showing the benefits of exercise for people with a variety of different cancers at different stages (1, 2).
If you have cancer you should avoid inactivity. It is recommended at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise each week. This equates to 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week.
Read below for exercise and cancer treatment advice.
Below are some examples of aerobic exercise you can do:
- Swimming / hydrotherapy
Resistance training (weight bearing exercise) is also recommended each week.
This may involve the following:
- Rows with weight
- Push ups
- Bicep curls
Resistance training can be done alternate days up to 4 times per week. Following this, it is recommended to have at least one recovery day between sessions. Plan to start with one set of 12 repetitions for each, then build up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions over 4 weeks.
The exercise recommendations can definitely be overwhelming. Physical activity is important and we know it’s so beneficial, no matter how basic or modified the movement is.
It’s not only excellent for your physical health but your mental health as well.
Cancer treatment options can have side effects; such as appetite loss, constipation, edema (swelling) diarrhea, memory or concentration problems, nausea, pain, sleep problems and fatigue just to name a few (3).
How can you reduce these cancer treatment side effects with exercise?
If you exercise regularly you will experience less severe side effects from treatments and lower the risk of cancer recurring.
Research indicates when doing physical activity you can tolerate aggressive treatments better, relieve mental stress and counteract cancer-related fatigue, which will improve quality of life (1, 2, 3, 4).
So exercise and cancer treatment go together!
What can an Exercise Physiologist do to help?
- Structured, home or gym program as well as supervised classes.
- Exercise Physiologists (EP’s) listen to the individuals goals and create suitable exercise programs in a controlled environment.
- EP’s collaborate with the rehabilitation teams and deliver safe and effective exercise prescription to clients going through cancer treatment (2).
Written by Lara Watts, Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
Lara has a keen interest in helping people with cancer keep active and improve their strength, endurance and resilience whilst managing through cancer treatment.
1.Heywood R, McCarthy AL, Skinner TL. Efficacy of Exercise Interventions in Patients with Advanced Caner: A systematic Review. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2018 May; 99(12):2595-2620.
2.Sangermano S, Pugh T, Yaguda S. Exercise Physiology in Cancer Care. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2017 Oct; 22(4).
3.The Cancer Council [internet]. Every cancer patient should be prescribed exercise as medicine; [cited 2019 27 June]. Available from: https://www.cancer.org.au/news/blog/treatment/every-cancer-patient-should-be-prescribed-exercise-medicine.html
4.Tello M. Exercise as part of cancer treatment. 2018 June; 13 (2).