We’re moving away from the assumption that “rest is best” when it comes to living with and beyond cancer. Macmillan’s physical activity manager Arry Beresford-Webb explains why Macmillan is so keen to learn what motivations and barriers people affected by cancer have to becoming and staying active.
We know that physical activity is important for cancer patients at all stages of cancer diagnosis. Macmillan has carried out a review of the evidence demonstrating the benefits of physical activity for cancer patients, this review is available on the Macmillan website.
We are working to ensure that everyone living with and beyond cancer is aware of the benefits of physical activity, moving away from the assumption that “rest is best” and is enabled to choose to become and stay active at a level that is right for them.
The vidence supports the role of physical activity in preventing decline in physical function during treatment without increasing fatigue, helping recover physical function after treatment, and in reducing risk of recurrence and risk of developing other long term conditions. For people with advanced cancers physical activity has a role in helping them to maintain independence and wellbeing.
Macmillan have a dedicated physical activity team based at our UK office in London, with a Physical activity manager in Wales and Northern Ireland. I am the manager for Wales, and have a background as a physical activity specialist in public health, the environment sector and the private sector.
Together we are responsible for the Macmillan physical activity strategy and supporting the development of mechanisms within the cancer care pathway to support people in maintaining or initiating physical activity in a way that is appropriate for them during and after treatment.
The team currently supports 60 physical activity projects nationwide, working together to improve the quality and quantity of local physical activity services, so they are then available to people affected by cancer. The programme includes research and development, influencing, implementation and evaluation
Macmillan have been working across the UK to develop and test an evidence based approach to physical activity behaviour change. We have worked closely with projects to learn what motivations and barriers people affected by cancer have to becoming and staying active, and to establish the best way of helping people to gain the confidence and knowledge of activity opportunities that are right for them.
In Wales we currently have physical activity pilots in Swansea and Cardiff, as well as developing pilots in West and North Wales. By working with individuals and linking with schemes such as the National Exercise Referral Scheme and Let’s Walk Cymru, people affected by cancer will have access to a wide range of opportunities to experience the physical, mental and social benefits of physical activity throughout their cancer journey.
Issues and concerns highlighted by patients through holistic needs assessment provide a fantastic opportunity to indicate where physical activity can play a role in that individuals physical, social and emotional needs. The use of this tool allows for the opportunity to highlight where it is appropriate to incorporate physical activity into individual care plans.
Some patients may need to take part in a closely monitored physical activity programme within a hospital environment to help them regain physical function, whereas for others it may be the social elements of joining a walking group or taking part in sports that they enjoyed prior to cancer diagnosis that is a priority. By working with the individuals needs physical activity is one part of supporting them to regain control of their lives.