28 May 2019

New exercise guidelines for patients with cancer

Cancer Evidence Based

People with cancer should be encouraged to follow a personalised exercise program that could include high intensity workouts for some patients, according to new guidelines from Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA).

The recommendations overturn the previous advice, released 10 years ago,  which advocated a “slowly slowly” approach to exercise, favouring a generic regime of low to moderate intensity activity and a specified number of workouts per week.

But research, led by QUT Research Fellow Professor Sandi Hayes, now shows the benefit to cancer outcomes, including specific treatment-related side effects, such as lymphoedema and fatigue, which can be achieved with a more targeted approach to exercise.

“Research in this space has exponentially grown and consequently, the updated position stand now provides the foundation for Accredited Exercise Physiologists to ensure their exercise prescription is targeted towards improving cancer outcomes,” Professor Hayes said.

“While for the majority of cancer patients, moderate to high intensity exercise will likely be appropriate, there is no set prescription and total weekly dosage that would be considered evidence-based for all cancer patients.”

“Precision medicine is about optimising patient outcomes. This position statement allows for precision medicine through exercise.”

While for the majority, multimodal, moderate to high intensity exercise will be appropriate, there is no set prescription and total weekly dosage that would be considered evidence-based for all cancer patients, the ESSA position statement says.

Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport; May 23