Exercise and Cancer Treatment – Blog by our Exercise Physiologist Chris Erkotidis
A common misconception is that cancer is a fragile and protected world whereby those diagnosed must be safe like a package covered in bubble wrap. Truth be told, cancer is a curable disease that can also be prevented through lifestyle modification including changes in your exercise regime. It is vital for those who are diagnosed with cancer to immediately seek the relevant advice for treatment and how exercise can assist.
Research suggests that exercise during chemotherapy can increase the likelihood of a person’s survival by almost double. This is because unlike medication and drugs, exercise is a natural born killer drug utilising our body’s immune system attacking the tumour cells. During exercise, our immune system increases adrenaline which activates these natural born killer cells and releases them into the blood stream.
Interleukin-6 is released by our muscles and seeks out to attack the tumour cells with the assistance of our natural born killer cells. This in effect can be simplified by saying, “our body is generating its own chemotherapy and anti-cancer drug during exercise” Dr. Rob Newton.
How does exercise affect the tumour cell? As we exercise we increase adrenaline and our blood supply around the body. Tumour cells receive a very poor blood supply thus increasing this during exercise is vital in attacking the cell. This is where a structured and appropriate exercise program works its magic.
Why wait until you are deconditioned and unwell? Exercise during treatment has proven to enhance mood state making you feel better.
Patients report an increase in energy post exercise sessions, decreased nausea and fatigue whilst also reducing their risk of muscle loss or wastage which is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Some research has shown patients reporting an increase in muscle mass and strength during chemotherapy when linked with exercise.
As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, I have a keen interest in cancer rehabilitation and a focus on prevention of chronic disease. My firsthand experience in this field has given me the tools to become extremely passionate about helping those reach their goals and full potential. Cancer is a daunting issue which will affect most of us at one point or another across our life. As an allied health professional, I wish I could work with everyone to help treat or better yet prevent any chronic disease from impacting their life. Every small step counts and every chance we get to better our life experience should be taken with both hands.
So, where to from here? The next step is up to you but making exercise apart of your treatment could change and possibly save your life. At Total Physiocare we offer various exercise programs to promote a healthy lifestyle. Working alongside our multidisciplinary team will ensure your best outcome is achieved and we would love to work with you to assist in making your challenges that little bit easier.