Prostate cancer survivors urged to increase physical activity

Health Professional Cancer Network

New research shows 88 per cent of Australian prostate cancer survivors aren’t meeting the recommended exercise guidelines for people with cancer, and almost half are totally inactive. The Griffith University and Cancer Council Queensland study found a lack of exercise was associated with higher distress and poorer quality of life for men diagnosed.

Inactive prostate cancer survivors reported higher levels of anxiety and their unmet supportive care needs were higher. Being physically active is vitally important for men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Only 12 per cent of the men surveyed were meeting the current exercise-oncology guidelines, and 48 per cent were totally inactive. The benefits of exercise aren’t just physical – being physically active has a strong impact on the emotional and mental health of prostate cancer survivors.

Foundation Professor of Allied Health Research at Griffith University’s Menzies Health Institute and a lead investigator on the study, Professor Suzanne Chambers, said being inactive was associated with higher psychological distress and poorer quality of life. The good news is that the study indicated most men were at least contemplating a change in their exercise habits, and a third of those who were inactive were preparing for a change.

More strategies are urgently needed to help prostate cancer survivors get enough aerobic and resistance exercise for their short and long-term health. Prostate cancer survivors are advised to participate in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week, with resistance training on two or more days each week. Cardio exercise is important for reducing fat mass, but men need to ensure they participate in resistance training to prevent loss of muscle and bone mass.

Men with prostate cancer should see their GP for a check-up before starting any new exercise program. Cancer Council Queensland urged men diagnosed with prostate cancer, and their friends and family, to seek help if they were distressed, anxious or experiencing pool quality of life. Men with prostate cancer and their friends, families and carers can call 13 11 20 for information, support, advice, and emotional assistance.

The study, funded by Cancer Australia, it’s the first of its kind in Australia, examining a large cohort of metropolitan and rural prostate cancer survivors.