I became aware of the importance of exercise for cancer patients while taking part in the “Surviving Cancer in Rural and Regional Australia” Satellite Symposium linking 58 sites around Australia.
The event addressed the significant gap in readily accessible information for people dealing with cancer in rural and regional Australia.
I felt a little out of my depth I was among doctors, professors, and lecturers talking about dealing with cancer.I was there to talk about my personal cancer journey and strategies for overcoming cancer.
While all the speakers made valuable contributions it was professor Rob Newton from the School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, WA who really caught my interest.
He talked about the value of anabolic (resistance) exercise for cancer patients undergoing chemo.
The conventional wisdom used to be just go home and rest after chemo treatment. But now that appears to be the worst thing you can do. Exercise has been shown to actually reduce fatigue during chemotherapy.
The American Cancer Society says that people receiving chemotherapy who also exercise experience these benefits:
- Shorter hospital stays
- Less decline in physical functioning
- Significantly less fatigue and emotional distress
- Better sleep
- Increased self-esteem and confidence
- Fewer side effects
“In addition, just the act of exercising can help you feel like you have more control over your body and your life—an important issue for people who are living with the uncertainties that come with a cancer diagnosis,” says Harry Raftopoulos, M.D., respiratory oncologist in New York City and author of Exercises for Chemotherapy Patients.
The benefits of exercise, particularly as we get older are well documented but the role of exercise in cancer treatment and recovery is something we should all be aware of.