Going through a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatments can come with an increase of fatigue, loss of strength and the mental struggle of adjusting to this new reality, meaning it can be hard to have the motivation to maintain an exercise routine. However, exercise during and after cancer treatments has shown to improve the symptoms and side effects of cancer and some cancer treatments, as well as reduce the likelihood of cancer recurrence. Recently there have been further calls for exercise prescribed by Exercise Physiologists to be provided to those living with cancer.
Exercise physiology can help to find ways to
- Manage fatigue
- Rebuild strength and endurance
- Improve or maintain bone density
- Manage weight
- Improve balance
- Increase mobility
Cachexia is cancer related loss of muscle mass
Hormone replacement therapy is used to treat cancers that use hormones to grow, such as in some prostate and breast cancers.
Osteoporosis can be developed after Prostate Cancer treatment
Exercise for Cancer
Exercise has many biological effects on the body. In relation to cancer, exercise can help to lower the levels of sex hormones and growth factors that have been associated with cancer development, which alongside hormone replacement therapy can be extremely beneficial for those with prostate or breast cancers. Regular exercise can also reduce inflammation, improve immune system function, support cancer treatments in destroying tumour cells, prevent obesity and prevent high levels of insulin. During treatment recommended exercise will be unrealistic. However, even getting just a small amount of blood flow will be beneficial during harder times with small bouts during the day.
Cardio exercise will help strengthen the heart and lungs as well as boost the circulation of immune cells. Suggested around 20 - 30 minutes of moderate intensity per day and 10 - 20 minutes of vigorous intensity every other day (walking, swimming, cycling and gardening).
Strength activity at least 2 days per week (weights and resistance bands) will help prevent muscle loss during and after cancer treatment as well as maintain or prevent osteoporosis occuring due to certain cancer treatments
Balance training will improve mobility and reduce chances of falling (yoga, tai chi, balancing on each foot)
What to do next
Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEP) prescribe and monitor exercise to cancer patients which plays a key role in cancer treatment. AEPs provide individually tailored advice, support and resources to help people with cancer exercise safely throughout their cancer journey.
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