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In May 2018, the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) made a “world-first” statement position on exercise and cancer.
What did it say?
In a world-leading declaration that current research supports exerciseto be AS important as first line cancer treatment. The strongest evidence exists for improving physical function (including muscular strengthening, aerobic conditioning and functional ability), reducing cancer related fatigue, alleviating psychological distress and improving quality of life. Emerging evidence highlights that regular exercise before, during and/or after cancer treatment decreases the severity of side effects from cancer treatment including chemotherapy and related to a reduced risk of developing new cancer and other health comorbid conditions (diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis). Epidemiological studies have link being physically active with a protective effect against cancer recurrence, mortality rates for colorectal, breast and prostate cancer. For practitioners, not to refer for exercise as part of cancer treatment can be detrimental to outcome.
Gone are the days of thinking that rest is best and exercise can be hugely beneficial in improving overall health across the board. Despite leading world organisation promoting a physical lifestyle and the direct benefits during active and post cancer therapies, the vast majority of Australian’s do not meet the recommended weekly requirements of aerobic (60-70%) and resistance-based training (80-90%).
What it means?
COSA recommends 150 minutes moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, cycling or swimming) each week. They also recommend 2-3 sessions per week of resistance-based (i.e. weights) of moderate to vigorous intensity focusing on the major muscle groups. Accredited physiotherapists and exercise physiologists are the most qualified to deliver appropriate exercise programs to people with cancer.
For more information, refer to the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia or Cancer Council website.