Doctors say there’s yet another VERY good reason to exercise

-Sep 6, Jenny Paul , Health -

Most of us know someone who has been through cancer treatment. Many of us will have sadly lost close family or friends to the illness and some reading this may have battled cancer themselves. Traditional approaches to treating cancer centre around surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, with the preconception that rest is best when fighting the disease. However, a recent study has now recommended another form of treatment to run alongside medical approaches: exercise. 

Why exercise is helpful for people with a cancer diagnosis

Going for a swim, jog or cycle probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when undergoing gruelling cancer treatment, but according to the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, it’s exactly what patients should be doing. The organisation released its position statement on exercise in cancer care in 2018, calling for exercise to become part of standard practice and to be viewed as a therapy that counteracts the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment.

The statement recommends that all medical ‘cancer team’ staff promote physical activity and refer the patient to an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist with experience in cancer care. What a huge step forward! 

How running helped TV star Trisha Goddard

TV host Trisha Goddard famously went running every day during her breast cancer treatment and was adamant that exercise got her through it. She revealed: ‘I went running every day, even if I just staggered for an hour or so. Even if I didn’t feel like doing it. First thing I did when I got out of bed was put my running gear on, so it wasn’t a question of not feeling like it. Nine times out of ten I did not feel like it, but I knew at 17–20 minutes that I’d get that kick. So I thought: “What’s 17 minutes?”

RELATED: How to love your body without hating your exercise routine

The statement by COSA was given the seal of approval by 25 health and cancer organisations, which certainly says something. The body says clinical research has established exercise as a ‘safe and effective intervention to counteract many of the adverse physical and psychological effects of cancer and its treatment.’ 

Exercise improves physical function, reduces cancer-related fatigue, alleviates psychological distress and improves quality of life. Working out also lessens the risk of developing new cancers and related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, as well as protecting against cancer recurrence. Isn’t that amazing?

What type and how much exercise should cancer patients be doing?

COSA say ‘All people with cancer should avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible following diagnosis’.  That means progressing towards at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week, plus two to three resistance exercise sessions each week. Exercises do however need to be tailored for each person.

RELATED: How to fall in love with exercise again

The statement author, Professor Prue Cormie said: “Really we are at the stage where the science is telling us that withholding exercise from cancer patients can be harmful. Exercise is the best medicine someone with cancer can take in addition to their standard cancer treatments. That’s because we know now that people who exercise regularly experience fewer and less severe treatment side-effects; cancer-related fatigue, mental distress, quality of life.”

She added that is exercise could be contained in a pill, it would be deemed a huge breakthrough in treating cancer.

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