Exercise Oncology

There has been huge progress in the field of exercise oncology research over the past two decades and Balanced Bodies Lifestyle Clinic is proud to be practically applying this research with our clients in an individual and group setting. I have been involved with running the Man Plan program for men with Prostate Cancer for the past 12 months with great success. In addition to this I has been involved with the Cancer Council as a facilitator of their ENIRCH program which combines Nutrition and Exercise advice for Cancer Survivors and their carers to reduce the risk of secondary Cancers and other health complications.

Being physically active at any stage in life is important to reduce your risk of cancer, for example:

  • Exercise can help waste pass through the bowels quicker, decreasing the chance of contact with cancer causing agents (Source: Cancer Council Victoria)

  • High activity levels may lower the level of oestrogen in the body and reduce the risk of Breast Cancer (Source: Cancer Council Victoria)

  • Active bodies produce less insulin and insulin-like growth factors that can speed tumour growth (Source: Cancer Council Victoria)

  • Exercise may reduce cancer risk by preventing obesity and systemic inflammation. (www.cancer.net)

For Cancer patients, exercise should be considered as part of their treatment plan as it can help with reducing the side effects of treatment and decrease mortality risk from secondary health problems that may occur either from side effects of treatment or sedentary behaviours that may result from illness.

Side effects from treatment such as cachexia (“wasting syndrome”), fatigue, oedema, pain, constipation, neuromuscular effects and sexual dysfunction can be reduced through regular exercise. Aerobic exercise improves cardiorespiratory fitness, reduces arterial stiffness, reduces fatigue, increases tolerances to activities of daily living and improves circulation. Resistance training increases/maintains muscle mass, maintains bone mineral density, improves glucose metabolism and storage, improves neuromuscular adaptation and increases tolerances to activities of daily living.

For many Cancer survivors they are at a greater risk of mortality from secondary health complications usually as a result of “sarcopenic obesity” which is muscle wastage combined with obesity. Resistance training in particular can act as a protective mechanism to maintain muscle mass and help maintain a healthy weight.

Mental health can also be positively influenced through exercise by decreasing the chance of depression, increasing confidence and concentration.

Exercise is one thing that Cancer patients can control that has multifaceted benefits in conjunction with medical care.

By Anna-Louise Moule

Accredited Exercise Physiologist