Exercise and cancer

Evidence is growing to support exercise as a means to:

  • prevent cancer
  • help patients through their cancer treatment and recovery
  • prevent or delay cancer relapse.

Cancer prevention

Exercise during and after cancer treatment

  • Exercise guidelines for cancer survivorsExercise guidelines for cancer survivors (American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable, Jun 2010)
  • Nutrition and Physical Activity During and After Cancer TreatmentNutrition        and Physical Activity During and After Cancer Treatment: An American Cancer Society Guide for Informed Choices
  • "Exercise helps patients who are recovering from cancer because it improves stamina, vitality, mood and muscle tone...(Understanding Complementary TherapiesUnderstanding Complementary Therapies, Cancer Council NSW p49). Benefits include:
    • maintaining general health
    • keeping up or improving fitness levels
    • improving digestion
    • stimulating endorphins (hormones responsible for feelings of well-being)
    • enjoying the activity
    • keeping one's mind off negative thoughts
    • engaging with others socially.
  • Exercise during cancer treatmentExercise during cancer treatment Your goal should be at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week or more. 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.
  • Exercise can help reduce cancer-related fatigueExercise can help reduce cancer-related fatigue
  • Exercise during chemotherapyExercise during chemotherapy. A supervised exercise intervention including high and low intensity components was found to be feasible and could safely be used in patients with various cancers who were receiving adjuvant chemotherapy or treatment for advanced disease. The
    intervention reduced fatigue and improved vitality, aerobic capacity, muscular strength, and physical and functional activity, and emotional wellbeing, but not quality of life. BMJ 2009
  • Exercise guidelines for cancer patients – in the SA Cancer Support Groups Newsletter ‘Mosaic’ May 2007 issue p2-3. Go to the Mosaic articles at the bottom of this webpage.
  • Exercise and cancer. The Cancer Council NSWCancer Council NSW listed these recent journal articles on the topic.
  • Healthy lifestyle behaviours in long-term cancer survivors. MedscapeMedscape overview or original JAMA 2009JAMA 2009 abstract. Lifestyle interventions may provide benefit, but it was unknown whether long-term cancer survivors can modify their lifestyle behaviors sufficiently to improve functional status. Telephone counseling and a 'print-material–based diet and exercise intervention' (delivered by post) is effective in reorienting functional decline in older, overweight cancer survivors.
  • Physical Activity in Cancer SurvivorsPhysical Activity in Cancer Survivors Psycho-Oncology journal Special Issue (Apr 2009) with full free text access to 14 articles.
  • Why 'plenty of bed rest' could be bad adviceWhy 'plenty of bed rest' could be bad advice. Cancer World, 2008

General 'Physical Activity and Exercise Benefits'

Physical Activity Guidelines for AmericansPhysical Activity Guidelines for Americans (Nov 2008) US Dept of Health and Human Services science-based guidance to help Americans aged 6 and older improve their health through appropriate physical activity.

Exercise and Physical Activity for older adults: Exercise and Physical Activity for older adults: Review and guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) of issues critical to understanding the importance of exercise and physical activity in older adult populations. MedscapeMedscape summary or free full-text article in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, July 2009. (Note, 'older adults' generally refers to people 65+yrs age, but these guidelines are generally applicable for the 50-65yr age group, particularly those with a chronic illness)


Cancer Voices South Australia


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PO Box 588, Kensington Park SA 5068