A woman with dark long hair wearing a pink top and grey tights is stretched up and back with her arms in the air

Optimising Cancer Outcomes Through Exercise

Cancer risk decreases as activity level increases

Physical activity, as a means of cancer prevention, has considerable strong and convincing evidence for particular cancers (breast and colorectal specifically), to the extent that the lack of physical activity is considered a risk factor for such cancers.

Exercise physiologist plays a significant role during and following cancer treatment:

  • Preventing, managing and reducing treatment-related side-effects
  • Bridging the gap between treatment cessation and returning to ADL
  • Improving long-term health by optimising physical function, preventing cancer reoccurrence and other chronic diseases (BMD loss, CVD, etc.)

In the literature, exercise during and following treatment has shown to:

  • Prevents decline and improves cardiovascular function
  • Improves body composition and immune function
  • Improves strength and flexibility
  • Improves body image, self-esteem and mood
  • Stimulate the neuromuscular, endocrine, immune and skeletal symptoms for symptom reduction and health enhancement

Reduces number and severity of side effects including:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Improves QOL
  • Reduced hospitalisation duration
  • Improves chemotherapy completion rates
  • Allows for better adjustment to illness
  • Reduces stress, anxiety and depression

In fact, the LACK of PHYSICAL ACTIVITY participation during and following cancer treatment has the potential to exacerbate fatigue symptoms and loss of function, overall impacting quality of life.

Exercise recommendations

  • Steady progress may mean regular participation in exercise rather than the continual progression of intensity/duration/frequency
  • Keeping a diary of frequency and intensity of side effects, exercise participation, the treatment being undertaken, workdays and other relevant information to help identify worsening symptoms and the cause throughout treatment.

Cardiovascular (CV) Exercise

·         Exercises involving large muscle groups

·         Don’t need to be restricted to walking or stationary bike

·         3-5days/week

·         20-30mins continuous CV exercise, but may need to start as low 3-5mins with rest intervals for deconditioned patients

Resistance Exercise

·         Dynamic using concentric an eccentric muscle contraction

·         Use of machine weight, free weights, bodyweight and bands that involve major functional muscle groups

·         Include exercises that replicate daily tasks causing problems for patients

·         1-3days per week (rest days in between)

·         6-10reps, 1-4 sets per muscle group


Contact your Local Sports & Spinal clinic to see how they can assist you today!