Thursday 22 February 2018

Exercise helps beat fatigue after cancer treatment - sports doctor

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

CANCER survivors who have completed treatment have been advised they can help to reduce fatigue by exercising.

Dr Noel McCaffrey, sports and exercise medicine specialist and lecturer in Dublin City University's School of Health and Human Performance, said people can come through treatment deconditioned and less fit.

However, although many may feel trepidation as a result of their illness, exercising can be an important part of recovery after treatment and people should attempt a level of activity that is appropriate for them.

"There are psychological benefits to getting back to exercising," Dr McCaffrey said. "People may have lost confidence and feel inadequate. Even getting back driving to attend an exercise class can help."

Dr McCaffrey, a former Dublin All-Star from the 1980s, demonstrated the benefits of exercise to a large group of survivors at the National Conference on Survivorship, organised by the Irish Cancer Society, in the Aviva stadium yesterday.

He was joined by nurses Patricia McGrath and Mairean Cooney, who run the Move On exercise programmes for cancer survivors with Dr McCaffrey at the performance unit.

Patricia said the transformation in the participants after undergoing the course over several months can be dramatic.

"It can even be visible in their posture - if only their sense of well-being after four months could be bottled," she said.


"I would definitely encourage people to return to mobility after treatment. For many of our participants it is the first time they have exercised in months," she explained.

For cancer survivors around the country who do not have access to programmes, she recommended joining a group activity if possible - slowly building up their fitness again.

They can set themselves goals and do more over time. Ideally, they would go at moderate to quick pace for a stretch and then walk more slowly.

She also advised people at the beginning to go around the same circuit a couple of times rather than going a distance from home, in case they feel weak or get out of breath.

People can ask advice from their GP or oncology nurse about how much they should expect of themselves.

The 23rd survivorship conference was told there are now over 120,000 people in Ireland today living with and beyond cancer, and that their needs must be recognised.

Irish Independent

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