1 in 2 Australian men and women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. And whilst survival rates have increased, and we have seen some major improvements with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, we still have a long way to go.  So, imagine if you were told there was something you could do that would reduce the adverse effects of cancer treatment such as nausea and fatigue? A pill that would make you stronger, improve your mood and your confidence. A pill which could increase your life expectancy, reduce your risk of the cancer recurring, and does not cost much. Would you want to take it? Majority of us would say yes! What if I told you this pill is simply exercise? Only 40% of Australians diagnosed with cancer are staying active and completing exercise during treatment, which needs to change. Our Mid North Coast Physio Director, Aaron Hardaker, spoke with Brianna Hope, Exercise Physiologist, to discuss the benefits of exercise for the prevention and management of cancer.


Tell us a bit about yourself

I have always been interested in the way our bodies are able to adapt to maintain a balance, especially when it comes to fighting off disease and injury. Having always been active growing up, with a keen interest in hockey, I have been fortunate enough to develop a good understanding of the benefits of regular exercise in keeping healthy. The combination of these two factors led me into studying a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of New England.

Throughout my studies and into my career as an EP, I have developed a strong interest in using exercise as a tool to improve outcomes for a range of chronic diseases, with a particular focus on cancer. Since moving back to Bellingen and joining the wonderful team at Mid North Coast Physiotherapy, I’ve been able to share my passion for using exercise to help with the management of chronic

diseases with hundreds of people from the Coffs Coast community.

How does exercise help with cancer treatment?

It is well known that staying physically active is one of many ways to reduce your risk of developing cancer. However, it is not until recently, with a major worldwide effort from the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, that we are now seeing the introduction of exercise to be used alongside traditional treatment methods such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to further improve the outcomes of these treatments.

Research has shown that exercise can reduce adverse side effects, reduce the risk of cancer recurrence, reduce fatigue and improve immune function. Not only is exercise great for our physical health- there are major psychological benefits including improving mood, reducing stress, and also improving our social interactions.

You’re currently running CAN Ex – exercise groups for people with cancer. Tell us about it.

The CAN Ex program is a joint initiative between the Mid North Coast Cancer Institute and Mid North Coast Physiotherapy. The new project has cancer patients referred by the Cancer Institute’s Coffs Harbour team to us to have an individual consultation, assess their current capabilities and record several baseline measures. They then participate in weekly exercise groups specifically for cancer patients, while being given a personalised home exercise program along with support and education throughout the program.  The patients will then complete the program with another individual consultation to measure their physical and psychological improvements, while being empowered to continue their exercise outside of the program.

So does exercise benefits just apply to people diagnosed with cancer?

No, certainly not! Everyone can benefit in participating in regular exercise. Whether it is reducing blood pressure or cholesterol levels, losing weight, or improving balance to reduce the risk of falls – all you need is a place to start.

To help you in getting started, Mid North Coast Physio offers prospective new clients a FREE Pre-assessment session with one of our Exercise Physiologists to see how they can help by developing an individualised program that suits your needs.  Call NOW on 1300273747 to secure your spot.

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