Does exercise help fight cancer?

Coming out of COVID I thought I might do some professional learning while my private gym in Hobart was quiet.  I decided to train as a Cancer Exercise Specialist.  I’ve been dealing with quite complex clients for years now and some of them have had cancer.  To consider working with clients at all stages of cancer required more expertise.  So I registered for the most suitable course I could find, the US based Cancer Exercise Training Institute.  It was an eye opening and confronting course, but it has a huge global support network for personal trainers just like me that want to help people with cancer.  Many of the participants were personal trainers with cancer.  Cancer shows no bias wreaking havoc in the healthiest bodies as well as those with multiple complexities.  Having said that living a healthy life does reduce your risk of cancer.  I’ll talk about that another time.

What are the best types of exercise?

Exercise has long been recognised as part of a cancer recover regime.  There are many benefits to exercising before and after surgery.  The improved muscle tone and strength improves surgical outcomes.  The same can be said for most surgical procedures, not just for those with cancer.  The benefits for the person on chemotherapy are impressive.  What kind of exercise is suitable you might ask?  Actually the types of exercise that has benefits for the general population is suitable, and can make you fitter, stronger, and help you maintain a healthy body weight.  There are also mental health benefits such as improved mood, reduced fatigue, and a boost in confidence.  So walking, bike riding, weight training, swimming, stretching are all recommended.  What is key though is if you are resuming an exercise program following surgery and treatment is that there will be guidelines to follow and a medical clearance is essential.  Your body may feel different and you may have lost a little confidence in what you body can do.  You may adapt protective postures if you have a surgical scar or amputation.  Working with an appropriately trained and experienced personal trainer is key at this stage. Here is an interesting guide with the Australian cancer exercise recommendations.  Water based personal training might be worth considering, or tailored personal training.  I offer both!

Feeling empowered by exercise choices is important when going through cancer

Beyond feeling empowered is the compelling evidence that research repeatedly shows a longer life span and less re-occurrence of cancer in those who exercise regularly, when compared to those who did not.  Being able to maintain a healthy body weight is also key in managing cancer as body fat often harbours sex hormone oestrogen that feeds tumour growth.  It’s a complex condition that often sees women having a hysterectomy which then leads to surgical menopause and bone density issues.  A major part of a treatment regime in this case is weight training.

What delights me as the personal trainer of anyone is the proactivity and planning that goes in to living your best life.  So whether the goal is enjoying bush walking with your family or planning a holiday, your exercise program should have the future in mind.  Maybe, the best is yet to come!  



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Jo Cordell-Cooper operates the award winning business Jo CC Holistic PT, offers personal training, stress management strategies, preparation for hiking workouts, and adventure travel to multi-day hikes, locally and overseas.  Join us on facebook in my free group Holistic Personal Training for more healthy lifestyle tips and tricks.

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