How exercise can be a key component of cancer care after diagnosis

avoiding cardiovascular disease

There has never been a clearer understanding of the role an unhealthy lifestyle plays in the development of chronic disease and in particular cancer. A lifestyle incorporating low movement levels, poor nutrition, smoking, high psychological stress and excessive body fat will increase the risk of most common cancers by a significant margin. This is not new information and continues to be a key aspect of existing and future public health messaging.

Cancer – the need to adopt a healthy lifestyle

However, information is less clearly available on the strong link between those with an existing cancer and the need to adopt a healthy lifestyle. How can lifestyle be a key component after diagnosis?

Amazingly there are no general UK guidelines about exercising after cancer diagnosis. This is partly due to the sheer range and breadth of different cancer diagnosis and the fact what may work well for one (i.e. bowel cancer) could be a problem for another (i.e. bone cancer). As such, guidelines have historically been given by the treating cancer doctor – called an Oncologist – who may or may not recommend exercise driven by their personal experience.

However, in a ground-breaking move the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia are leading the way globally with formal recommendations for the prescription of exercise for all cancer patients. Their hard-hitting directive was released in 2018 stated the following;

  1. Exercise should be embedded as part of standard practice in cancer care and viewed as an adjunct therapy that helps counteract the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment.
  2. All members of the multi-disciplinary cancer team should promote physical activity and help their patients adhere to exercise guidelines.
  3. Best practice cancer care should include referral to an accredited exercise physiologist and/or physical therapist with experience in cancer care.

Chair of the COSA Exercise Cancer guidelines committee, Dr Prue Cormis is very clear on why exercise must be front and centre of any cancer discussion.

“If we could turn the benefits of exercise into a pill it would be demanded by patients, prescribed by every cancer specialist and subsidised by government. It would be seen as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment.”

Huge impact of exercise in cancer care

The position of COSA mirrors the clinical experience of Viavi in seeing the huge impact of exercise in managing clients with cancers of all stages and types. The value of exercise and lifestyle improvements are beyond simply improving the robustness of physiology (essential) but also extend into positive benefits in mood, sleep, stress control, bone density and more!

Every 2 minutes someone in the UK has a new cancer diagnosis. How long until soon after diagnosis they can receive guidance towards exercise as a powerful tool at their disposal to positively affect what happens next.

The Viavi:be exercise sequence fits perfectly with the guidelines from COSA on best practice for cancer patients. The blend of cardiovascular and controlled resistance exercise, plus the skills of our clinically trained team, mean we are well set to help those who need it most. Book in today to find out more.

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