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Cancer: It’s never been a better time to exercise

17 May, 2016

runners

As you all probably know by now, the importance of exercise is something I talk about everyday. I write about it, tell my patients about it and, of course, promote it through my own exercise studio.

No matter what form of exercise it is, as long as it’s pelvic floor safe (if you have pelvic floor dysfunction) and gets you moving, the benefits are endless. I could talk for days about how exercise helps to decrease the impact of ageing, has a positive effect on mood and strengthens the body as a whole.

A feature on exercise and cancer on the ABC’s Catalyst program was a real eye-opener and revealed some wonderful research which could very well have the potential to drastically change the survival rates of those living with cancer.

A specialized gym attached to the  Edith Cowan University in Western Australia’s chemotherapy centre has been set up by Dr Robert Newton in the hope of proving that patients undergoing chemotherapy can immensely benefit from exercise.

Led by a team of exercise physiologists, patients attended the gym three times a week – most of them had their first session just hours after a round of chemotherapy.

Some patients who participated in the trial had their reservations at first, due to the way they were feeling after their chemo, but little by little, they saw the great benefits of exercise during their treatment. Measurements showed their muscle mass and strength had increased which is incredibly important during the treatment phase of cancer. Good circulation and muscle strength actually play a key role in helping the chemotherapy to work to its full potential.

Alongside the physical benefits, patients also reported less feeling of fatigue and a better overall mood and outlook on life. Once again, it seems like exercise is the real winner here.

Following amazing studies in recent years, exercise is said to double the chance of survival after cancer. This is fantastic news and is hopefully motivation for everyone undergoing treatment for cancer to gradually learn to love exercise again.

It’s stories like this that make me excited for my upcoming Gynae and Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Course at Studio194.

The course consists of one class each week running for an hour, for a total of 10 weeks. It’s run by physiotherapist and Pilates instructor Amanda Lee. The first five weeks have an education component, a gentle exercise component relevant to any specific weakness or pain the participant may have, and finally relaxation and breath awareness training.

The education component includes information about pelvic floor function, good bladder and bowel habits; the physical effects of radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy including managing the extreme fatigue that accompanies these treatments; good nutrition and healthy eating and an introduction to mindfulness.

The second five weeks will have an increased exercise component appropriate to the physical capability of the participants with the aim of building strength and vitality in the post cancer treatment phase.

The aim of the course is to help those recovering from cancer to not only survive, but thrive.

It’s such a great feeling seeing exercise so heavily promoted as a form of medicine these days. Hopefully in years to come, a specialised exercise program will become commonplace in hospitals for those undergoing treatment for cancer. In the meantime, we’ll continue to marvel at the work being done at Edith Cowan University and look forward to the future of cancer treatment.

Our Cancer Rehab Classes will commence when Amanda Lee comes back from her wedding in Bali at the beginning of July.

monique pilates AmandaLee

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