Fighting fit to beat cancer

Fighting fit to beat cancer, by Aisha Dow.

If there’s an excuse to skip the gym, surely it’s being diagnosed with cancer.

But when new mother Nicole Cooper was told she had an aggressive and likely terminal form of the disease, her oncologist prescribed her two things – potent chemotherapy and exercise.

“He said let’s do the chemo and I want you in the gym every day,” Ms Cooper said.

On Monday, a group of leading Australian cancer organisations became the first in the world to declare that exercise should be prescribed as a standard part of cancer treatment.

Led by the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, the new position statement means that not only should exercise be encouraged by GPs, specialists and nurses, but that it is vital for cancer patients.

It says all people with cancer should attempt to do two to three resistance sessions a week (such as weights) and embark on at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise (such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming).

While it will not be possible for everyone, the recommendations respond to mounting scientific evidence that exercise can drastically improve people’s chances of survival, in one study by up to 44 per cent.

Most up to date cancer doctors will begin telling patients to do it soon. It’s been known for some years that it’s very helpful, but lacked approved studies and permission to advise.