Exercise versus cancer

Dr Mary Ling in the operating theatre

A Central Coast specialist breast surgeon who is accredited at Brisbane Waters Private Hospital features as a guest author in a new book, The Exercise Prescription, which reveals the latest evidence in the nascent science of “exercise medicine”.

The book features the latest research on the impact of exercise on cancer, COVID-19 and chronic disease and all proceeds will go towards Australia’s first, free online hospital exercise program for cancer patients.

Dr Mary Ling, who is also accredited at Gosford Private and Tuggerah Lakes Private Hospitals, says more than 20 scientific organisations have supported a recent Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) position statement about exercise and cancer.

COSA now recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (such as walking, jogging, cycling and swimming) each week as part of standard cancer care treatment.

It also recommends two to three resistance exercise (lifting weights, TheraBand etc.) sessions each week.

“Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence due to its impact on the immune system and by helping to maintain a healthy weight,” Ling said.

“New research also shows active women experience improvement in biomarkers of breast cancer risk and I actively encourage patients to exercise during their breast cancer treatment.”

Central Coast athlete Margaret Beardslee, baton bearer for the 2018 Commonwealth games, who rode 60km on her 60th birthday while going through chemotherapy, also features in the book.

“In the past there was a notion that cancer patients needed to be wrapped up in cotton wool, stay in bed and avoid anything too strenuous,” she said.

“But to me, the exercise is almost as important as the chemo.”

Six-time Olympic medallist Michael Klim, who wrote the foreword to the book, talks about how exercise helps his mood and creative ideas.

“I have most of my good ideas in the pool,” he said.

“It’s my place of mindfulness, the go-to place where I know I won’t be bothered.

“I have one piece of advice about exercise – mix it up.

“Your muscles remember and adapt.

“I swim, lift weights, surge run around with the kids, the more varied the better – the only bad workout is the one you never did.”

The Exercise Prescription also profiles the latest scientific research on: how exercise fights severe COVID-19 complication, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which has a 45% mortality rate; recent UK research which has shown cyclists in their 80s have similar immune function to people in their 20s; how exercise changes bad DNA; how exercise drives mood; weight – diet v fitness; and exercise and cancer recurrence.

All proceeds from the sale of The Exercise Prescription will be used to fund a pilot cancer exercise program at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney.

Media release, Nov 30
The Exercise Prescription