Cancer and Exercise

By Sarah Mengel l Accredited Exercise Physiologist
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Cancer is an umbrella term for diseases where the body’s cells divide without stopping and take over nearby cells.  These cells can then transport around the body and spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymphatic system.

Did you know that 1 in 2 Australians will be diagnosed with some form of cancer before the age of 85????  It is currently the leading cause of death in Australia with approximately 137 people dying of cancer every day in 2019.  Those numbers are high but there is something we can do to help manage cancer symptoms as well as prevent it.

How do we do that????  Through EXERCISE!

Benefits of exercise during and following treatment for cancer (ESSA, 2019)
Benefits of exercise during and following treatment for cancer (ESSA, 2019)



Aerobic exercise: Activity that increases your heart rate. 

Attempt to perform 20+ minutes of some form of aerobic activity every day if not most days of the week.  It is not necessary to perform 20 minutes in one go but rather break it up into smaller, more manageable and less fatiguing bouts.


Resistance exercise: Strength training to increase the capacity of a muscle.

Attempt at least 2 sessions per week with a minimum of 48hrs of recovery prior to exercising the same muscle group.


At the very least, cancer patients should be limiting sedentary behaviour and working towards the national recommended physical activity guidelines.


NOTE: These guidelines are a general statement and every individual should have a tailored exercise program from a qualified professional (Accredited Exercise Physiologist) and seek medical advice prior to commencing exercise.



More information regarding exercise and cancer can be found on either the ESSA or Exercise is Medicine website.

For a tailored exercise program consult your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist on 0438 014 747