Insisting that patients with cancer “take it easy” is doing more harm than good, Macmillan Cancer Support has argued.
When patients are going through treatment and recovery they should be encouraged to become physically active, as evidence shows that this “significantly benefits recovery and can avoid the disease progressing,” the leading charity said.
“The evidence is there and we simply can’t ignore it,” Jane Maher, joint chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support said. “Being physically active could very well save your life – and this is the message we should be getting out to people affected by this horrible disease.”
Physical activity helps not only to manage the – often devastating – consequences of treatment such as fatigue, depression and heart damage, but also to reduce the risk of the disease worsening, recurring or causing death in cancer patients, the charity stated.
Yet, the charity surveyed 1,011 people living with cancer and found that one in four people (25%) had not done any physical activity that raised the heart rate in the last seven days, and one fifth of people (20%) did not feel confident about becoming more active than they currently are.
Friends and family have a crucial role here, as just over 60% of people surveyed said that exercising with family and friends would do more to help them become physically active than cheap gym membership or advice on fitting physical activity into daily life.
Maher added: “As healthcare professionals we have an important role in advising people with cancer to get moving, and because of the undeniable case for being active, this is increasingly being recognised. But we can’t underestimate the role that loved ones play in encouraging and supporting people with cancer in this way.”