Exercise is Medicine

Want to prevent cancer..? Get active.

Did you know that physical activity can be more effective than chemotherapy for preventing bowel cancer recurrence? That being physically active is one of the most effective strategies for the prevention (and recurrence) of breast cancer?

Over the past two decades, it has become increasingly clear that physical activity is associated with a reduced lifetime risk of developing cancer. A recent study which pooled data relating to the impact of exercise on cancer has risk shown that high levels of leisure-time physical activity are associated with a statistically significant lower risks of ten different cancers. This reduction in cancer risk is present even when other lifestyle factors, like body mass index is accounted for. Achieving physical activity recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been associated with a 7% decrease in overall cancer risk. While the strongest available evidence is for the prevention of bowel and breast cancers, there is likely to be a reduction for many other cancers.

After a cancer diagnosis physical activity remains important. Remaining active during the course of treatment can help a patient recover and can help with some of the side effects associated with common anti-cancer treatment. This is often at odds with the advice that patients receive – with rest being one of the most commonly prescribed treatment. Remaining physically active during the course of treatment can improve a patient’s stamina (endurance), strength, and fitness levels. It can also help patient’s psychologically and can help mitigate some of the side-effects (and other negative impacts) of chemotherapy and other treatments used to treat the disease.

Recurrence is a significant issue and is frequently the source of much stress for cancer survivors. In the United States is estimated that about 40% of patients treated for local and locally advanced colorectal cancer experience cancer recurrence while breast cancer, recurrences affect 10–20% of patients (depending on tumour characteristics, stage of cancer, and treatment). Physical activity can again be an important method to try to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. A growing number of studies have looked at the impact of physical activity on cancer recurrence and long-term survival. Exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, body composition, fatigue, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, happiness and several quality of life factors in cancer survivors. At least 20 studies of people with breast, colorectal, prostate, and ovarian cancer have suggested that physically active cancer survivors have a lower risk of cancer recurrence and improved survival compared with those who are inactive.

There are many reasons for being physically active during cancer treatment, but each person’s exercise program should be based on what’s safe and what works best for them. The exercise plan should take into account the patient’s exercise history and consider any possible barriers to activity (for example pain). It is also important to consider the specific type and staging of the patient’s disease as this can also impact their exercise prescription. Our clinical team, composed of sport and exercise physicians and clinical exercise physiologists, are experts in the prescription of exercise for those with a cancer diagnosis and for those who are recovering after treatment for this disease.

Axis Exercise Clinic

Could your patient benefit from a prescribed and monitored exercise programme? Our specialist Exercise Clinic is the perfect solution. Not only are all our programmes tailor-made for each patient taking into consideration their condition, but they will have access to a state of the art gym and monitored exercise sessions to help them through the programme.

If this sounds like something you or your patient could benefit from, make an appointment to come in and see us.

To make an appointment call 09 521 9846