Exercise as Medicine for Cancer

Lisa Broman (Exercise Physiologist – Burnie)

Are you or someone you love living with cancer? Are you/they participating in regular exercise?

1 in 3 Australians will have a cancer diagnosis by age 85.  For most a diagnosis is life changing and can have a huge impact on and individuals health, family life, relationships, work and even finances.

Understandably those with a diagnosis of cancer undergoing treatment may feel tired and lacking motivation and also be experiencing feelings of depression and anxiety. All of this can affect someone’s ability to perform regular exercise.

But what we now know is that exercise should be recommended as standard practice alongside cancer treatment for those with a cancer diagnosis.

“If the effects of exercise could be encapsulated in a pill, it would be prescribed to every cancer patient worldwide and viewed as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment. If we had a pill called exercise it would be demanded by cancer patients, prescribed by every cancer specialist, and subsidised by government.” (1).

Some of the benefits of exercise for people with cancer include:

  • Help to reduce and manage side effects of treatment (including fatigue)
  • Help to manage mental and emotional impact of cancer (depression, anxiety and distress)
  • Improve quality of life
  • May improve the ability to tolerate cancer treatments and make treatments more effective

But more than this, an appropriately prescribed exercise program can:

  • Reduce the relative risk of cancer coming back by 20-40%
  • Reduce the relative risk of death from cancer by 28-41%

There are many considerations for prescribing exercise to those who have a diagnosis of cancer and the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia recommends referral to an accredited Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist with specialised training in exercise oncology.

If you would like to start experiencing the benefits of exercise in a safe and supportive environment, book in with our Exercise Physiologist Lisa Broman today. For appointment call our Burnie clinic on 64314586.

References:

  1. Cormie, P ‘Every cancer patient should be prescribed exercise medicine’ Cancer Council https://www.cancer.org.au/news/blog/treatment/every-cancer-patient-should-be-prescribed-exercise-medicine.html
  2. Cormie, P., et al., Clinical Oncology Society of Australia position statement on exercise in cancer care October 2019
  3. Cormie P, et al. The Impact of Exercise on Cancer Mortality, Recurrence, and Treatment-Related Adverse Effects Epidemiologic Reviews, Volume 39, Issue 1, January 2017, Pages 71–92