What is an exercise physiologist?An Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) is a university qualified allied health professional who specialises in the delivery of exercise and lifestyle programs for healthy individuals and those with chronic medical conditions, injuries or disabilities. AEPs possess extensive knowledge, skills and experience in clinical exercise delivery. They provide health modification counselling for people with chronic disease and injury with a strong focus on behavioural change. Working across a variety of areas in health, exercise and sport, services delivered by an AEP are also claimable under compensable schemes such as Medicare and covered by most private health insurers. When it comes to the prescription of exercise, they are the most qualified professionals in Australia. What makes AEPs different to other exercise professionals?
- They are university qualified
- They undertake strict accreditation requirements with Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA)
- They are eligible to register with Medicare Australia, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and WorkCover, and are recognised by most private health insurers
- They can treat and work with all people. From those who want to improve their health and well-being, to those with, or at risk of developing a chronic illness
- Diabetes and pre-diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Arthritis and osteoporosis
- Chronic respiratory disease and asthma
- Depression and mental health conditions
- Different forms of cancer
- Musculoskeletal injuries
- Neuromuscular disease
- And much more!
Exercise and Different Types of CancerEvery four minutes an Australian is diagnosed with cancer. Cancer can have a devastating effect on people’s lives – not just their physical and mental health, but also their family, work and social life. Exercise is commonly accepted as important in maintaining good health and reducing the risk of chronic disease. A growing body of research has shown exercise to be a very effective medicine for people with cancer to take in addition with their anti-cancer treatments. Depending on the cancer, the stage of disease, and time since diagnosis, will help to determine which exercise would be best suited to you. Listed below are some benefits and information on exercise effect in common cancer sites. Breast Cancer Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among females. Treatment typically involves surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or a combination of the above. These treatments can be successful at removing cancer cells and tumours, often they lead to physical side effects that may affect your function and require some modifications to exercise.
- After breast surgery, pushing exercises may be difficult, along with reaching with arms over the head. It is recommended to include upper limb flexibility and range of motion exercises before strengthening to reduce the risk of injury, improve upper body functioning, and have greater long-term benefits.
- Radiation and surgery can cause damage to lymph nodes, which can result in lymphedema. It was thought that exercise exacerbates lymphedema symptoms, but recent evidence suggests that exercise is safe for those with lymphedema and may even improve symptoms. The process of muscle contraction can return fluid flow back through the nodes and reduce swelling.
- Another common side effect of treatment is a decrease in bone mineral density and loss of muscle mass, leading to an increase in risk of falls and fractures. Resistance training is recommended to increase bone mineral density, muscle mass and overall strength.
- Exercise during and after treatment improves overall strength and function, reduces frequency and severity of treatment related side effects, and helps to maintain a healthy body composition.
- Exercising with a colostomy bag is no reason not to exercise. A clearance from your GP is recommended for those with stomas prior to participation in certain types of exercise. Contact sports are not recommended due to risk of injury. Resistance exercise should be started at a low resistance and gradually built up over time to reduce the risk of a hernia at the stoma site.
- Exercise is safe for people with lung cancer and can help to manage side effects of lung cancer treatments. Exercise in the weeks before lung cancer surgery can improve outcomes and reduce complications. Exercise post-surgery can improve recovery time and reduce time to return to ADL’s
- Recommendations for exercise for those with advanced lung cancer are to remain as active as possible and avoid long periods of inactivity – a little bit is better than none
- Exercising after lung cancer can help to reduce shortness of breath and reduce risk of return of cancer or chronic disease
- One of the most common treatments for prostate survivors is androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). The side effects of this can be a reduction in testosterone levels, decreased bone mineral density, muscle atrophy, fatigue and insulin resistance. Prostate survivors undergoing ADT who complete regular resistance and aerobic based exercise regularly can expect to see improvements in muscular strength, physical function, and quality of life.
- Prostate cancer survivors can also experience losses in bone mineral density and muscle mass, usually as a result of ADT coupled with physical inactivity. This leads to an increase in fall and fracture risk. Progressive resistance training is recommended to restore bone mineral density, improve muscle mass and overall function.
The role of Accredited Exercise Physiologists in the treatment of CancerExercise has been established as an effective adjunct therapy for the management of cancer. People with exercise interventions have been shown to experience fewer and/or less severe treatment related side effects and have enhanced physical and psychological outcomes after a cancer diagnosis. This current evidence has led to calls for exercise to be incorporated into routine cancer care throughout all phases of the cancer care continuum – before, during and after treatment. Current evidence-based guidelines recommend all people with cancer:
- Avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible following diagnosis
- Progress towards and maintain participation in regular moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic exercise and resistance exercise each week
- Exercise recommendations should be tailored to the individual’s abilities noting the specific exercise programming adaptations may be required for people with cancer based on disease and treatment related adverse effects.
- improve functional ability/capacity
- improve health related quality of life across various domains including physical, mental and social wellbeing, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength, endurance, and power
- reduce cancer-related fatigue
- reduce psychosocial distress, and
- positively influence body composition.
- cancer-specific mortality for certain cancer types including breast, colorectal and prostate cancers
- cancer recurrence for certain types of cancer including breast, colon and prostate cancers
- all-cause mortality and development of new cancers
- developing comorbid conditions including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes
Moving Beyond Cancer at Cabarita and Pottsville PhysiotherapyMoving Beyond Cancer is an exercise class specifically designed by an AEP for people at any stage along the cancer continuum. The class enhances not only the physical wellbeing, but also the mental wellbeing to the lives of those with cancer. The exercises are tailored to the individual’s abilities, the program is patient-centred, and is responsive to individual patient needs, goals and preferences. An initial assessment is conducted by an AEP prior to joining the class. The classes are individualised exercise programs in a small group setting (1-5 participants). All sessions are EPC and Health Fund rebatable. For more details of our Moving Beyond Cancer Class follow this link
Moving Beyond CancerIf the effects of exercise could be purchased in a pill, it would be prescribed to every person with cancer. Even if the exercise pill had just a few of the positive health benefits that exercise provides, it would still be viewed as a miracle drug Exercise and Sports Science Australia’s (ESSA) current evidence-based guidelines recommend all people with cancer to exercise regularly to help combat cancer and cancer treatments People with cancer who exercise regularly have lower risk of dying from cancer, lower risk of the cancer coming back, and fewer and/or less treatment related adverse events
Moving Beyond Cancer Class Information
- Safe and effective exercise program specifically designed for people with cancer and cancer survivors
- Involves individualised exercise programs in a small group (1-5 participants) delivered by an Exercise Physiologist
- Counteracts the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment
- Enhances both physical and mental wellbeing
- Is based on the latest scientific research
Benefits of Moving Beyond Cancer:
- Improved health and wellbeing
- Reduced severity of anxiety and depression
- Increased energy levels and reduced fatigue
- Improved lung function
- improved strength and increased muscle mass
- maintained physical function and ease in activities of daily living
- improved balance and reduced falls risk
- improved state of mind and reduction in stress levels
- improved heart function and reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other forms of cancer
- improved bone strength and joint function
- improved quality of life
The potential benefits of exercise during and after treatment are significant and research has proved its effectiveness. Exercise during chemotherapy can help ease side effects, such as fatigue and nausea, and can help to boost the immune system of those undergoing cancer treatments. Chemotherapy side effects can sometimes make exercising tough, but it’s recommended to try to be as active as possible during treatment. Benefits of an appropriately prescribed exercise program in this population include improved:
- Muscle mass, strength, power
- Cardiorespiratory fitness
- Physical function
- Physical activity levels
- Range of motion
- Immune function
- Chemotherapy completion rates
- Reduced anxiety and depression