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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What exercise can I do to keep fit while undergoing cancer treatment?

    Related Topic
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2


    Luke Delvecchio

    Diabetes Educator, Exercise Physiologist, Nutritionist

    Specializing in the assessment and treatment of metabolism related weight disorders. View Profile

    The main issue undergoing cancer treatment is, of course, the chemotherapy's effect on testosterone. So one of the most important modalities of exercise to conduct when undertaking cancer treatment is resistance training. Resistance training has been shown and proven to help with reducing the side effects of muscle wasting or muscle loss, which is often a consequence of chemotherapy treatment. The best exercises they can do to keep fit is resistance or strength training exercise, such as those exercises performed in the gymnasium or as simple as doing body weight exercises at home, such as squats, push-ups, and dips.

  • 2


    Lisa Broman

    Exercise Physiologist

    Lisa is an accredited Exercise Physiologist with over 7 years of experience in the health industry. She has worked in hospitals, community health and private … View Profile

    For those throughout all stages of cancer; from diagnosis, through to treatment and recovery, exercise has been shown to be vital to assisting with:

    • Retaining muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness
    • Quality of life
    • Sleep
    • and also helping an individual cope with their treatment.
    • Some research also suggests exercise may improve survival rates following cancer
    As Luke has discussed treatment can lead to a decrease in muscle mass, especially for men undertaking androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer, however what research has really shown is that any form of exercise is beneficial for a person undergoing treatment and the most important thing is doing something, rather than nothing. 

    Those undergoing treatment can feel very fatigued and may only manage small bursts of exercise, so this will need to be managed from day to day, week to week. It is a good idea to chat to a health professional and get advice and also support on what is appropriate for you. But listen to your body and remember to try and reach the physical activity guidelines which are

    150 minutes a week (30 minutes, minimum 5 days per week)
    2-3 sessions of resistance training working the major muscle groups

  • Bowel Cancer Australia is the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care for everyone affected by bowel cancer. We … View Profile

    Bowel Cancer Australia provides a variety of information and resources for bowel cancer patients covering every aspect of the bowel cancer journey, including “Returning Home” which covers things like physical activity.

    For further details please visit the Life after a diagnosis of bowel cancer section on the Bowel Cancer Australia website and also our range of useful patient information booklets.

    Kind Regards,
    The team at Bowel Cancer Australia

    Please Note: The information provided by Bowel Cancer Australia’s Nurse and Nutritionist Advisory Services is intended for Australian residents as a reference guide only. It is not a substitute for independent professional advice and is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or disorder.

    If you believe your symptoms are consistent with those of bowel cancer or a digestive illness, please consult your doctor.

    Bowel Cancer Australia, its directors, officers or medical professionals shall not be liable to any person, company or any other body for any loss, direct or indirect or consequential on whatsoever account for any omission or negligent misstatement.

  • 3


    Dr Sujoy Mitra

    Medical Oncologist (Cancer Specialist)

    Medical oncologist and clinical haematologist treating all malignancies apart from acute leukaemias. View Profile

    There are no specific exercises that are prescribed or that should be undertake following and during cancer treatment.
    If you have been recently diagnosed with cancer or are undergoing treatment, it is important to take special care of yourself. One of the best ways to do this is to stay physically active.
    It is wise to add some form of regular exercise to your daily life–even during cancer therapy. Moderate aerobic exercise, such as riding a stationary bicycle or taking a daily walk, coupled with the use of light weights for strength training, can enhance physical well-being and spur recovery.
    Regular light exercise 3 times a week to keep your heart rate up would be perfectly acceptable.

  • 2


    Nikola Ellis

    Yoga Teacher

    Nikola Ellis has over 20 years experience in yoga and meditation and specialises in therapeutic yoga designed to meet the health needs of individual students. … View Profile

    Recent studies have shown that yoga has many beneficial effects for people going through cancer treatment. Specially designed yoga classes have been demonstrated to ease pain, improve sleep quality and enhance overall quality of life as well as easing anxiety and persistant fatigue. Yoga also keeps you flexible, strong and, when practiced correctly, does not place undue strain on your body while you are undergoing treatment for cancer. It's important to work with a qualified teacher who has some knowledge of working with cancer patients and not all styles are beneficial while going through treatment, so check before you sign up for a class. Private classes, gentle, hatha and restorative yoga are all great ways to keep you fit and healthy while combating some of the side effects of treatment.

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