What is exercise oncology?

22 Apr 2016

Anna-Louise Moule, AEP and Director of Balanced Bodies Lifestyle Clinic  (located within the Wellness Centre at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre) explains how exercise physiologists work with those going through cancer treatment.

Introducing a new player in the fight against cancer: exercise! There has been huge progress in the field of exercise oncology research over the past few years and I am proud to be practically applying this research with our clients in an individual and group setting. I have been involved in the Man Plan program for men with Prostate Cancer for the past 12 months with great success and with the Cancer Council as a facilitator of their ENIRCH program which combines Nutrition and Exercise advice for Cancer Survivors and their carers to reduce the risk of secondary Cancers and other health complications.  

In the past nine months I have come on board at the Wellness Centre at The Kinghorn Cancer Centre to provide Exercise Physiology services for patients currently undergoing cancer treatment and recovering from treatment. Exercise Physiologists are experts in providing exercise programs for people with chronic and complex health conditions and I work closely with people to find out what can be a manageable level of exercise throughout their diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

Being physically active at any stage in life is important to reduce your risk of cancer, for example:

  • Exercise can help waste pass through the bowels quicker, decreasing the chance of contact with cancer causing agents (Source: Cancer Council Victoria)
  • High activity levels may lower the level of oestrogen in the body and reduce the risk of Breast Cancer (Source: Cancer Council Victoria)
  • Active bodies produce less insulin and insulin-like growth factors that can speed tumour growth (Source: Cancer Council Victoria)
  • Exercise may reduce cancer risk by preventing obesity and systemic inflammation. (www.cancer.net)

For people undergoing cancer treatment, exercise should be considered as part of their treatment plan as it can help with reducing the side effects of treatment and decrease mortality risk from secondary health problems that may occur either from side effects of treatment or sedentary behaviours that may result from illness. There has been evidence to show people who are physically active prior to a cancer diagnosis are better able to cope with treatment.

Positive effects of exercise during treatment:

  • Decreased muscle wastage and loss of strength, protective effect on bone density.
  • Improved management of fatigue, pain and nausea
  • Able to cope better with treatment and higher chance of completing treatment cycles
  • Improved mental health and decrease of depression and anxiety
  • Maintain aerobic fitness and manage shortness of breath when exercising or during activities of daily living
  • Improved immunity

Post cancer treatment and moving into survivorship, I work with a range of people to regain strength and muscle mass, manage fatigue and return to their lifestyle. For some people this may be returning to work, keeping up with kids or grandkids, or a healthy active lifestyle. Exercise is important to decrease the risk of secondary health issues, which may come about because of an inactive lifestyle.

Mental health can also be positively influenced through exercise by decreasing the chance of depression, increasing confidence and concentration. Exercise is one thing that people with cancer can control that has a multifaceted positive impact in conjunction with medical treatment.


Contact Details:

Anna-Louise Moule

Ph: 0419 287 631 or main reception at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre: 9355 5600

E: anna@bblifestyleclinic.com.au