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Research shows exercise reduces depression in cancer patients

30 October 2012 - 2:11pm

Supervised exercise programmes given to patients while they are being treated for cancer have been found to reduce depression.They also encourage the patients to continue exercising after their treatment has finished.


Physio Debbi Rowley and her judo instructor brother Chris, with Luke Corran, six, at ‘Do it for you 2012’ in Sheffield. Photo: Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust

New research, published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship and commissioned by charity Macmillan Cancer Support, found that patients who took part in a 12-week supervised group exercise programme reported lower levels of depression and a better quality of life five years after their treatment ended.
The research, carried out at the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee, found that the patients, who were undergoing treatment for breast cancer, took between 50 to 350 minutes more exercise each week than patients in a control group who were not given an exercise programme during their cancer treatment.
Macmillan, which has worked jointly with the CSP to produce a new Physio Works briefing on cancer survivorship, is running its own Move More campaign, which encourages cancer patients and those who have had cancer to increase their activity.
The campaign also provides resources on cancer and exercise designed specifically for health and social care professionals. (See below for link).
CSP professional adviser Clare Claridge, said: ‘This research adds yet more weight to the argument for healthcare professionals routinely providing physical activity advice to people living with and beyond cancer. Physiotherapy staff have a responsibility to discuss these benefits and support cancer patients and cancer survivors to develop sustainable exercise behaviours.’

Youngsters with cancer Do it for you

Meanwhile, in a separate initiative, 150 young people who have received treatment for cancer were given the chance to try scores of physical activities under one roof at a huge physiotherapy-led day in Sheffield.
‘Do it for you 2012’, run by Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, took over the athletics hall at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield to give youngsters and their families the chance to try everything from tennis to judo, and ceilidh dance to disc golf. The aim was to encourage young people who have had cancer to be more active.
Debbi Rowley, advanced physiotherapist in neuro-oncology at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, helped run the day. She said an idea to invite a couple of sports clubs snowballed into the huge event, which saw Paralympians and the world squash champion among those helping out the youngsters.
‘Sometimes, young people who have had cancer can be a little bit protected, and we wanted to say it is okay to try these activities and they might make you feel a little bit better,’ she said.
Physiotherapy students from Sheffield Hallam University ran a mini-Olympics at the event, and events staff from the university helped to run the day, which could now become an annual event.
‘It was a lot of hard work to arrange it, but it was such a positive event, and we got so much positive feedback, that it was definitely all worth it,’ said Ms Rowley.


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