You may have heard in the news lately that the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) released a statement regarding their position on exercise during cancer treatment. The enormity of the release of this statement is certainly not lost on our team here at Aim Physiotherapy, and we hope that the following blog can help you to further understand the significance of this recognition.

The statement covered 3 key recommendations:

• Exercise should be embedded as part of standard practice in cancer care

• All members of the multi-disciplinary cancer care team should promote and recommend the exercise guidelines to their patients

• Best practice cancer care should include a referral to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist with experience in cancer care.

So what are the guidelines?

The exercise guidelines for people undergoing treatment for cancer are almost identical to the Australian Government’s recommendations for physical activity levels. This is:

• At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise per week.

• Two to three resistance training sessions at a moderate-vigorous intensity per week.

Let’s break this down a bit further:

Aerobic exercise: is a sustained activity such as walking, swimming, running or cycling that stimulates and strengthens the body’s heart and lungs and improves the utilization of oxygen.

Resistance training: is exercise that promotes the increase in strength, size, power or endurance of the muscles. Often it involves the lifting, pushing or pulling of a physical weight or other type of resistance such as an elastic band, cable or your own body weight.

Intensity: the intensity of exercise is often hard to define as it is very much personal and individualized. A good way of measuring intensity is through the use of the “talk test”. For moderate intensity exercise, you should be able to maintain a general conversation, however you would become out of breath very quickly if you began to sing. Vigorous intensity exercise means that you would struggle to maintain a conversation past a few words without needing to catch your breath.

However, care needs to be taken when the cancer patient also suffers from other chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or COPD or if the particular cancer has compromised a certain system of the body. In these cases, modifications can be made to the type, duration, intensity of frequency of the exercise ensure the patient is safe at all times.

Hopefully this blog has helped to clarify the COSA position statement and a bit of the language that is used within it. For further information or if you know someone who could benefit from tailored exercise from a health professional with experience in the area of oncology, call Aim Physiotherapy today on 8331 1557 or find out more here.


Written by:

Tim Manning

Accredited Exercise Physiologist