The Conquer Cancer Exercise Program

The Conquer Cancer Exercise Program was created to fill a significant gap in the current treatment stream for those undergoing or who have undergone cancer-related treatments. Much of the academic literature suggests that there are a significant number of co-morbidities pertaining to individuals and groups which can be both afflicting the patient prior to cancer diagnosis or as a result of the deconditioning and negative health effects of cancer or as a side-effect of cancer-related treatments.

Such co-morbidities whilst potentially not as “life-or-death” in the short-term as the individual’s particular cancer/s, do significantly affect the patient’s ability to respond to cancer treatment and/or return to a healthy life post cancer treatment.

The Conquer Cancer Exercise Program provides an opportunity for patients to receive supervised exercise interventions from our highly qualified and experienced Exercise Physiologists in a one-on-one, group and/or Virtual setting. The exercise interventions would be specifically tailored to the needs, abilities, health status and exercise experience of the patient and matched to their health goals, energy levels and time availability.

The Exercise Program

The Conquer Cancer Exercise Program is comprised of three separate programs (In Clinic, Home Based and Virtual), each of which can be specifically tailored to each individual. The programs complement each other, focusing on increasing movement possibilities and improving strength and function. The combination of aerobic and resistance exercise is important as they can decrease muscle weakness and wastage, reduce fatigue levels and aid in bone remodelling. In the first week of the program each patient will complete two sets of ten repetitions and will be adjusted accordingly, slowly progressing to ensure a moderate intensity is maintained.

The In-Clinic Program utilises body weight, resistance bands and free weights to increase the intensity while in the clinic. As cancer patients are at risk of sarcopenia, incontinence, reduced range of motion, lymphedema, postural changes and reduced core stability, each of these are addressed within the program. The upper body and lower body exercises aim to build and maintain strength while also aiding in maintaining bone mineral density due to bone loading and the low impact nature of the exercises. The upper body exercises also aim to help with postural changes due to potential guarding and muscle loss. Torso and core stabilisation exercises have been included to aid with pelvic floor strength (reduce incontinence) and core strength (Transverse abdominis) which is important for all patients but particularly those who have undergone any abdominal surgery or treatment for prostate, gynaecological or colorectal cancer.

The Cardio Program is individualised to the patient’s heart rate reserve (HRR). In the first week, each patient is provided with their target HRR. The HRR is prescribed at a low-moderate intensity as recent studies have observed no significant difference in training benefits between low-moderate and high intensity training in this population. This ensures that each patient finds the cardio program achievable and which increases adherence outside of the clinic. To ensure the correct intensity is maintained each client will assign a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to their HRR to make it easier for the client to monitor their intensity. An RPE value will also allow the client to maintain the desired intensity at home when completing short walks (if appropriate). Like the resistance programs, the cardio program will progress from interval training to continuous training (with a constant workload) as their cardiovascular fitness improves.

The Home-Based Program has been designed to allow the patient to complete resistance and cardiovascular exercises at home without the need to buy or rent any equipment. This overcomes barriers that may limit home-based exercise participation such as space, equipment and financial outlay. The home program focuses on increasing range of motion, strength and function. Similar to the In-clinic Program, the Home Program ensures that all major muscle groups are targeted to develop muscular balance and stability. Range of motion exercises are also included to help with fluid drainage for those with lymphedema and to help increase joint mobility. The home exercise program is an important aspect of the Can-Conquer Program as it allows patients to develop self-efficacy and belief that they will be able to continue with an exercise routine after they complete the program. It will allow them to take some control of their health and increase their self-management. Similarly, this part of the program provides more regionally-based participants with the opportunity of participating consistently in exercise prescribed by our Exercise Physiologists. Contact us on (07) 46 38 3777 for more information or to book a consult with our Exercise Physiologists.