EXERCISE AND CANCER
“Something is better than nothing…”
The benefits of exercise and physical activity outweigh the risks of inactivity, therefore is generally advised, and rarely discouraged. Professional guidance with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist can help guide the best path, shaped around your specific circumstances, your enjoyed activities and exercise background; helping make it as beneficial, appropriate and enjoyable as possible, for you.
The effect of exercise on cancer overall is quite broad, yet positive. Though exercise oncology has only been specifically studied across a limited number of cancer types, the evidence for exercise and physical activity in terms of preventative measures, comorbidities as well as overall survivorship is growing and continues to be favourable. While there are no absolute specifics in terms of best practice of prescription, i.e. types of exercise, dosage, intensity and so on for best outcomes, the research seems to point in the direction of general physical activity guidelines for encouraging, maintaining, or more importantly – reducing inactivity – by way of exercise and physical activity before, throughout and beyond cancer treatment. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, the general guidelines for health are the theoretical benchmark (>150min moderate aerobic, or >75min vigorous aerobic + 2 x strength sessions, per week), but with no such defined exercise prescriptions for cancer specifically, case individuality and specificity need to be the main drivers of exercise intervention for cancer, with factors like treatment phase, patient preferences, physical capacity, attitudes, resources and overall scale of benefit being most considered. Pragmatically, conservative exercise prescription approaches ought be taken when initiating exercise intervention with intent to slowly to build up or maintain - depending on patient circumstances - complimented by education, collaborative goal setting and managing patient expectations throughout the journey.
Position Statement on Exercise Medicine in Cancer Management, Exercise & Sport Science Australia, 2019
ACSM Exercise for Cancer Guidelines Infographic, 2019