Our stories

Workouts support cancer treatment

Thursday 2 December 2021

A collaborative research project between Deakin University and Western Health has highlighted the benefits of a complimentary gym program for women undergoing breast cancer treatment.

Lead researcher, Dr Sara Holton said the women from different age groups and backgrounds, were enthusiastic to share their feedback on the program. Funding from Western Health Foundation provides women who have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer a 12 week gym program as they start their cancer treatment.

“Overall, there was consensus that the patients found the gym program to be beneficial for both their physical and mental health,” said Dr Holton.

“It was clear that they trusted their gym instructor who was able to tailor their programs to their fitness abilities and take into account any modifications for medical reasons like wounds and recent surgeries.”

“Peer support was a big factor in the program with things like feeling safe and supported to take their wigs off. Many of them have formed close ongoing friendships and continue to meet outside the gym program,” said Dr Holton.

“Even when lockdowns meant that they were unable to go to the gym, they continued to exercise because it made them feel better. Without the program, they wouldn’t have realised the positive effect exercise would make them feel.”

“Research shows that exercise helps reduce the risk of cancer recurring. Another positive finding to come out of our project was that the program helped patients anxiety about their cancer recurring. Many felt it was a proactive step they could do to reduce their risk of cancer recurring.”