The West

Fit for the fight
Russell Coleman. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

Exercise and cancer treatment may seem like an unlikely duo, but keeping up with a little physical activity can help you cope both physically and mentally.

According to the Cancer Council, resting all the time might not be the best approach. Exercise often eases side effects that sufferers face such as digestion issues and nausea, plus it helps maintain muscle strength, elevate mood and combat tiredness.

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This was the case for 55-year-old father of two Russell Coleman, who embraced specialised gym work- outs to counteract the fatigue he experienced during his life-saving treatment.

In July 2010, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of advanced localised prostate cancer that required surgery and hormone deprivation therapy followed by radiation therapy which continued until the following May.

Shortly before he began radiation, the Cancer Council WA invited him to join Fit for Life, an exercise course for cancer survivors.

"This program was of particular importance to me after coming off hormone deprivation therapy, which reduced my muscle tone and overall strength whilst containing the spread of the cancer," Mr Coleman said.

"I found once radiation therapy began that my exercise program really helped mediate the influence of the fatigue that is common as treatment progresses.

"Probably of equal importance was the influence my exercise was having on my mood. I believe my increasing fitness helped me maintain a more positive outlook and motivation to keep working on my health and wellbeing."

The program tied in to an Edith Cowan University study about the effects of physical activity on cancer survival outcomes. The 10-week program involved a two-hour session of cardio and resistance training twice a week under the supervision of an exercise physiologist.

It made such a difference to Mr Coleman's life that he later joined rehabilitation centre Exercise for Life in East Fremantle.

"I have always placed a lot of importance on physical fitness but after my recent experiences, exercise has taken on added importance in my life," he said.

"It has been approximately 10 months since I completed my cancer treatment and, at this stage, blood tests indicate I am progressing well."

The Run for a Reason first-timer is looking forward to testing his endurance with the 4km jog and will be backing the Cancer Council WA, which supported him with his recovery. Exercise not only changes the way patients feel while being treated but can also reduce the risk of developing the disease in the first place.

A study published in the January Medical Journal of Australia estimated that, by 2025, around 25 per cent of cancers - or 43,000 cases - could potentially be prevented through diet and exercise improvements. The researchers said the most likely would be bowel and breast cancer.

According to the Cancer Council, 60 minutes of moderate activity a day or 30 minutes of vigorous activities can reduce your risk.

The West Australian

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