Powering Prostate Cancer Recovery Through Exercise

07 February 2019, Tim Burton -  

Studies across the world have reached this conclusion time and time again: one of the simplest ways to help combat prostate cancer is exercise. But how do we get patients exercising?

A review of randomised controlled trials was conducted by academics in Cologne. It showed that incontinence, fitness, fatigue, body constitution, and also quality of life can be improved by clinical exercise in patients during and after prostate cancer. 

There isn't much doubt about it, exercising is important for prostate cancer patients. But given that a common symptom of the disease is fatigue the real question is, how do we get patients exercising? 

The problem

If you've been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you're perhaps not well motivated to start exercising. For one thing, a common symptom of prostate cancer is fatigue. On top of that, we have a rising problem with obesity in the UK and being overweight is a common cause of prostate cancer, as is being over the age of 50. 

If you combine each of those factors, you'll find that a lot of prostate cancer patients will find it hard to start exercising. This is without even considering that most of these patients will have a full time job or other commitments that keep them busy throughout the week. 

Whilst exercise is crucial for prostate cancer patients, there are numerous mental and practical obstacles to overcome. How do we do that? 

A solution?

Fee Cahill is a nurse based at Guy's Hospital and is a former TUF Urology Nurse of the Year. She understood a TUF-funded study that found that structured physical exercise classes and training for prostate cancer patients led to many patients maintaining health habits away from the hospital. 

Fee found that exercise classes acted as a potent motivational force, they proved a confidence booster for patients, and they led to positive behavioural changes. 

Fee told us, "While the results were not positive for every single patient who took part, the vast majority went on to take exercise much more seriously. In the months that followed our study they were active on a regular basis. We believe this kind of intervention with patients can improve the lives of men with prostate cancer and those men who have been through prostate cancer." 

From Patient to PT

Simon Lord is a former prostate cancer patient who was treated at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital and has a passion for exercise. 

"Around sixteen weeks after my procedure I was running the Bath half-marathon. That wouldn't have been possible if the procedure I underwent wasn't performed robotically, but I also believe that my commitment to fitness and exercise made a huge difference to my recovery. 

"Three years ago I decided I'd take my interest in exercise to a higher level and I was taken on as an apprentice at the gym in my village. I qualified as a personal trainer in 2018 and will soon start two further courses to qualify me as a cancer rehabilitation specialist trainer by the middle of 2019, shortly before my sixtieth birthday. 

"In nine years I will have gone from cancer patient to someone who helps cancer patients in their recovery. From Spring I'll be running an exercise project with prostate cancer patients alongside the nurse who supported me after my own prostate cancer." 

For patients like Simon, exercise proved to be a silver bullet. So much so that Simon is now dedicating his time to supporting other prostate cancer patients with their health and fitness. 

Whether it's through support from people like Simon or classes that are provided, like those that Fee studied, we have to find new and interesting ways to get prostate cancer patients exercising.

Help us to support more nurses and researchers like Fee Cahill, so that more lives can be saved. Donate today >

 

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