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Why Exercise Is Important For Women with Ovarian Cancer

06, Feb 2024 in Exercise Physiology

Exercise has long been associated with numerous benefits for cancer patients, ranging from decreased pain and increased energy to enhanced strength and overall quality of life. This holds true for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a condition that requires comprehensive care and support. In this blog post, we delve into the significance of exercise for women battling ovarian cancer, exploring its impact on different stages of treatment and recovery.

What is Ovarian Cancer?
Before we discuss the role of exercise, it’s essential to understand ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries, the reproductive organs in women responsible for producing eggs. It is often called the “silent killer” because symptoms may go unnoticed until the disease has progressed. Early detection and comprehensive treatment are crucial in improving outcomes for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

How Does Exercise Help with Ovarian Cancer?
Exercise plays a pivotal role throughout the ovarian cancer journey, from the pre-treatment phase to post-treatment recovery. Dr. Heather Leach, Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University, highlights the positive correlation between physical activity and the quality of life for ovarian cancer patients. Women who maintain or increase their physical activity post-diagnosis experience better overall well-being compared to those who decrease or remain inactive.

1. Pre-Treatment Benefits: Exercise before cancer treatment can help reduce treatment-related complications and enhance post-surgery recovery. Establishing a baseline level of fitness before treatment may contribute to better overall resilience during the challenging phases that follow.

2. During Treatment Support: Exercise can minimise the number, duration, and severity of treatment-related side effects. Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) play a vital role in supporting patients during treatment, ensuring that exercise is tailored to individual needs and conditions.

3. Post-Treatment Recovery: Physical activity aids in the speed of recovery and contributes to achieving a full recovery. Long-term side effects, such as fatigue and “chemo brain,” can be managed and improved through regular exercise. Exercise post-cancer reduces the risk of cancer recurrence and lowers the chances of developing other chronic diseases, including obesity, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.


Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients:

Decreased pain, increased energy, and improved strength.
Higher levels of physical activity are associated with improved quality of life, reducing fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
Studies on breast, colon, and prostate cancer survivors show a link between increased physical activity and improved disease-free survival.

While there’s no proven link that physical activity reduces ovarian cancer, studies show that moderate-intensity exercise correlates with a 33% lower risk of mortality in the first 1-4 years post-diagnosis.

Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) emerge as a valuable form of support for individuals navigating the challenges of ovarian cancer. The Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) encourages patients to explore exercise options that align with their preferences and individual goals. Incorporating exercise into the ovarian cancer journey is a powerful tool in promoting overall well-being and resilience, contributing to a healthier and more fulfilling life post-diagnosis.

In addition to the benefits outlined above, it’s crucial to highlight the importance of specialised programs for women with ovarian cancer. Recognizing the unique challenges they face, our institution is proud to offer an oncology program tailored to the specific needs of individuals battling ovarian cancer. Through our comprehensive oncology program, women can access specialised exercise regimens designed to address the physical and emotional aspects of their journey.

Our oncology program, Your Movement with Cancer, led by our experienced Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs), provides personalised exercise plans tailored to individual goals and cancer treatment stages. This evidence-based approach goes beyond exercise, fostering a supportive community and offering educational resources for overall well-being, treatment side effect management, and long-term health.

To begin your exercise journey with our Your Movement With Cancer program, book an initial assessment with our team today!

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