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Exercise During Chemo? 5 Reasons you should give it a go

We understand that getting up and active whilst you’re going through a gruelling course of chemotherapy treatment might be the last thing you feel like doing. But a large amount of recent research has suggested that it might be the best thing for your body, your mind – and also for the treatment itself.

  1. Exercise Can Reduce the Negative Side Effects of Chemotherapy: Nausea? Fatigue? Weight Fluctuations? Reduced Appetite? Mood changes/’Chemo Brain’? Studies have suggested that having regular exercise sessions alongside your course of chemotherapy can drastically reduce these side effects.
  2. Exercise improves tolerance to treatment: In a recent study, cancer patients who participated in regular exercise required only a 10% dose reduction of chemo, compared to the non-exercise group, who required a full 25% dose reduction. The higher dose that a patient is able to withstand, the more effective the chemotherapy.
  3. Chemo drugs travel more effectively in patients with higher muscle mass: It is important to try and prevent the muscle loss that cancer can cause. Excess fat can essentially ‘dilute’ the amount of chemo that is delivered to the tumor site, whereas patients with a good amount of lean muscle mass may experience more effective treatment delivery
  4. Exercise increases heart rate, blood pressure and circulation. It is suggested that an exercise session before, after or even during a course of treatment can help encourage blood flow to the site of the tumor.
  5. The endorphins released by physical activity play a key role in reducing stress and maintaining the mental wellbeing of participants.
  6. Reduce chronic after effects: patients with cancer can often be at high risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, obestiy and sarcopenia. Exercise can help prevent or at least delay the progression of these conditions.
  7. Reduced feelings of loneliness or isolation – are you able to find a group cancer rehab class near you? It can be great to exercise with a group of people who understand what you’re going through, to improve your support network and establish a sense of community.
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    ● Lopez Da Cruz, P., Taaffe, D., Newton, R., Galvao, D. (2021). Resistance Exercise Dosage in Men with Prostate Cancer: Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, and Meta-regression. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 53(3), 459-469.
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    ● Evans, H., Forbes, C., Vandelanotte, C., Galvao, D., Newton, R., Wittert, G., Chambers, S., Kichenadasse, G., Brook, N., Girard, D., Short, C. (2020). Examining the Priorities, Needs and Preferences of Men with Metastatic Prostate Cancer in Designing a Personalised eHealth Exercise Intervention. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 2020(Article in press), 13p..
    ● Kennedy, M., Bayes, S., Newton, R., Zissiadis, Y., Spry, N., Taaffe, D., Hart, N., Davis, M., Eiszele, A., Galvao, D. (2020). We have the program, what now? Development of an implementation plan to bridge the research-practice gap prevalent in exercise oncology. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 17(1), Article number 128.
    ● Spence, R., Sandler, C., Newton, R., Galvao, D., Hayes, S. (2020). Physical Activity and Exercise Guidelines for People With Cancer: Why Are They Needed, Who Should Use Them, and When?. Seminars in Oncology Nursing, 36(5), Article number 151075.
    ● William J. Turbitt, Donna Sosnoski, Andrea Mastro, and Connie Rogers. Abstract 2877: Exercise, alone and in combination with a whole tumor cell vaccine reduces mammary tumor cell growth and enhances anti-tumor immunity. Cancer Res August 1, 2015 75:2877; doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-2877