Platform: A cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean rest is best

A little physical activity can also make people feel better and reduce the anxiety that is so common when going through cancer treatment. Picture: TSPL

A little physical activity can also make people feel better and reduce the anxiety that is so common when going through cancer treatment. Picture: TSPL

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PHYSICAL activity can help reduce fatigue and manage the side effects of treatment, says Joanna Cole-Hamilton

During cancer treatment the advice used to be “rest is best”. However, we know now that rest isn’t best and that a little physical activity can play an important role in managing the side effects of treatment and making an individual feel better.

More than one in three will receive a cancer diagnosis at some stage in their lives and this can lead individuals to feeling isolated and alone. It can also leave people with little energy and feeling low, but research has shown that moving a little can really help people reduce the tiredness they experience and manage their side effects.

Fatigue is one of the most common side effects of cancer treatment. It’s also one of the most debilitating and often all people want to do is stay in bed. But what we know is that moving a little, perhaps a short, gentle walk or some gardening, won’t increase the fatigue. And after treatment, it will help the patient recover from fatigue more quickly. A little physical activity can also make people feel better and reduce the anxiety that is so common when going through cancer treatment.

However, for many it isn’t as simple as getting out and being active. Some people may not have done any physical activity for a while (or ever) and some may be nervous about being active following a cancer diagnosis, so support is often welcomed to get started.

Recognising this, Macmillan Cancer Support and Edinburgh Leisure has partnered up to deliver Move More Edinburgh, a physical activity programme for people affected by cancer.

Move More Edinburgh offers support to people affected by cancer to take part in a range of activities at various levels – from gentle movement and walking, to gym-based classes – so that everyone can take part. Individuals can be referred by a health professional or can sign up themselves. Those living with and beyond cancer can take part in Move More Edinburgh activities at any stage of treatment, up to five years post-diagnosis, and friends and family of those with a cancer diagnosis are also welcome to take part in some of the activities.

Volunteers play a key role in the delivery of Move More Edinburgh, and we’re always delighted to hear from more people wanting to make a positive difference.

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to mean that rest is now best. And whilst it will often be the toughest battle any of us face, a cancer journey needn’t be faced in isolation. Joining others in a Move More programme could aid positivity, help to reduce tiredness and manage the side effects of treatment, in a supportive environment.

Joanna Cole-Hamilton is Macmillan Move More Development Officer, Edinburgh Leisure