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The importance of physical activity for overall health and cancer fatigue

The inclusion of regular physical activity in day-to-day life has been shown to benefit all areas of health and wellbeing, from helping with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety to improving sleep and supporting the immune system.

Physical activity doesn’t always have to mean ‘exercise’

Noelia, Sciensus Practice Development Therapist/Physiotherapist, says that regular physical activity supports overall health and resiliency.

“Enjoying a small amount of physical activity three or four times a day, with two days each week including a bit more exercise, can have a real benefit’,” she said.

“Physical activity doesn’t always have to mean what people commonly understand as exercise – cleaning, gardening or doing general bits and bobs around the house can all count, even if they don’t increase your heart rate.”

Physical activity is also known to support mental health, as even walking once a day or pottering in the garden can help improve wellbeing, with the added benefit of getting some natural light and fresh air.

Using physical activity to fight cancer-related fatigue

Vicki, Sciensus’ Lead Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist, promotes physical activity for wellbeing with her patients, especially those who have cancer-related fatigue. She recommends going into the garden for 10 minutes or simply walking up and down the stairs to release invigorating hormones, helping people to get mobilised and feel better for it.

Research shows that such exercise effectively improves cancer-related fatigue, especially when patients keep up with their recommended programme.

Vicki said: “As nurse specialists, we will always ask cancer patients what physical activity they would enjoy, taking into account how they are feeling and how their cancer and its treatment are affecting them.

“Patients need to listen to their body – they may need to rest for a short while if they are feeling tired. However, everyone is different and our teams will tailor suggested activity programmes to help patients be as active as possible without pushing themselves too far.

“What’s crucial is that the level of activity remains enjoyable so that it can make the biggest impact possible on reducing cancer-related fatigue and making a real difference to people’s quality of life.”