Exercise for cancer survivors

Exercise and being physically active provide great benefits to our fitness, strength, healthy aging, mood and well-being as well as reducing risk of disease. We know we should all be moving more and staying active for a healthier lifestyle.

Increasing evidence has now supported that exercise is just as important for those that have been diagnosed with cancer as well as cancer survivors.  

With the prevalence of cancer increasing and more people now living with the long-term effects associated with cancer and cancer treatments, it is key to understand how exercise can positively impact your body and mind in a safe manner. 

Over recent years exercise has been prescribed adjunct to cancer treatment. However only one in ten of those diagnosed with cancer will exercise enough after their treatment, missing out on a myriad of improvements in physical function, strength, fatigue, quality of life (QOL), and possibly recurrence and survival. 

Recent evidence suggests that people who completed over 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity physical activity after diagnosis reduced their risk of death from cancer by up to 35%.

So where do I start?

Current guidelines and recommendations:

  • Avoid being sedentary
  • Complete at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity  (brisk walk or swimming)
  • At least x2 days per week of strength training 
  • For those who are starting out or are de-conditioned or experiencing fatigue, it is recommended to break the exercise into shorter bouts
  • Seek allied health professional (physiotherapist or exercise physiologist) advice for a suitable exercise program that suits your stage of care, needs and ability.