Every person with cancer and chronic disease can benefit from exercise, research shows.
This logic is being put into practice at the Kaden Centre - a not-for-profit clinic at Warabrook that provides targeted exercise programs for people in this situation.
Ahead of its one-year anniversary, the centre's founder Suzanne Clark-Pitrolo spoke about a five-year plan to expand.
"I would like within five years to have at least two other facilities in NSW, possibly Sydney and the Central Coast," she said.
"I'd like to get the government on board to do some funding."
The Warabrook centre, which now has 150 clients, is being extended.
"There's still heaps of room for a lot more people to come in and join the community."
The not-for-profit centre is a registered charity, which aims to provide affordable exercise programs.
The centre's name means warrior and fighter in Celtic and its logo is the Greek symbol for strength and courage.
Mrs Clark-Pitrolo has survived breast, colorectal and appendix cancer.
"For the entire time I was going through it, I was constantly searching for the right exercise to do and the guidance to do it," she said.
She found herself getting injured too often from the exercise she was doing.
"The thing about exercise is, if you don't do it correctly you can hurt yourself."
Patients want to know what they can personally do to feel better after chemotherapy and when recovering from an operation.
"I look back and think if I had been doing proper exercise all the way through, things would be different. I look back on what I was told to do, which was rest."
Now cancer patients and others with chronic diseases are told to "exercise, move and don't rest for long periods".
"Without getting too spiritual, I feel the reason I had three cancers was so I could develop this centre.
"I knew this centre had to exist. What I now need to do is make sure the centre lives longer than me. In doing that, it needs to have brothers and sisters as well.
"I don't take a wage. This is what I have to do."
She does, however, employ exercise physiologists and physiotherapists to guide clients.
As well as cancer patients, the centre tailors exercise programs for people with illnesses such as Type 1 and 2 diabetes, heart conditions, emphysema, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and stroke.
The programs are based on research, which shows exercise is important for people with cancer and chronic illnesses.
"The centre had to be based on medical research. I'm a scientist. I need facts," Mrs Clark-Pitrolo said.
Research shows exercise can help people reduce and improve the symptoms of chronic illness.
Regular exercise reduces the risk of many types of cancer. It can also counteract the effects of cancer and its treatment and help patients live longer.
Additionally, it can help counter fatigue and fight anxiety, depression and stress - conditions commonly experienced by people with cancer.
Associate Professor Prue Cormie, of the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, said historic advice to cancer patients was to rest and avoid activity.
"We now know this advice may be harmful to patients. Every person with cancer would benefit from exercise," she said.
"Most doctors and nurses agree exercise is beneficial but don't routinely prescribe it."
Associate Professor Cormie said cancer patients who exercise regularly experience fewer and less severe side effects from treatments. They also have a lower relative risk of cancer recurrence and dying from the disease.
"If the effects of exercise could be prescribed in a pill, it would be the most widely prescribed pill in the world. If this pill had a fraction of the benefits of exercise, it would be viewed as a major breakthrough in cancer care," she said.
"If we had a pill called exercise it would be demanded by cancer patients, prescribed by every cancer specialist and subsidised by government."
She said exercise specialists can "prescribe exercise in a similar way that doctors prescribe medications".
A systematic review done in Canada found the evidence showed that "exercise is safe and provides benefit in quality of life and muscular and aerobic fitness for people with cancer during and after treatment".
"The evidence is sufficient to support the promotion of exercise for adults with cancer. The inclusion of exercise into an individual's daily lifestyle is known to promote many health benefits; the same holds true for people with cancer," the review said.
Evidence supported "exercise in group or supervised settings".
For the post-treatment period, the review found a positive influence for all exercise. This meant people living with cancer could choose their exercise for aerobic and resistance training. Examples included running, brisk walking, cycling, weight lifting and body-weight or elastic band exercises.
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