Sports and exercise helping Perth cancer patients

Patients+exercising+at+Vario+Health+Clinic+ECU.

Image supplied by Edith Cowan University

Patients exercising at Vario Health Clinic ECU.

Natalia Caceres, Reporter

For years, cancer patients seeking medical advice have been told by professionals to get plenty of rest during their treatment and rehabilitation.

But in the last few years, research and evidence has shown the significant benefits of sports and exercise for patients with chronic diseases like cancer.

For the past 10 years Edith Cowan University’s Exercise Medicine Research Institute in Joondalup, has been examining the benefits of exercise and sports as a medicine to improve the lives of cancer patients.

In that time the Institute has helped to define a new area of cancer study as well as set up its own health clinic — delivering exercise programs in an attempt to complement radiotherapy with exercise.

ECU’S Vario Health Clinic, is run by professionals such as Favil Singh — an academic, researcher and accredited exercise physiologist whose research focuses on the role of exercise in the management of cancer.

“Sports and exercise plays a role in improving the side effects and improving the quality of life of a cancer patient,” he says.

“It improves their muscular strength, making them stronger, so when you’re stronger, it stops chemo side effects such as a tingling sensation, making them feel a lot better.”

The clinics offer a form of rehabilitation for patients and an environment where they are surrounded by like-minded people, along with a high level of support and care.

Mr Singh says the social environment that comes with exercising with like-minded people and people with similar illnesses, improves the mental health of patients.

“It helps in the sense that you are in a social environment and working with people with similar symptoms.

“At Vario we all exercise together,” he says.

“They form a source of help for each other and create a support system.”