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Advise relatives to help cancer patients 'get active'

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A charity has suggested health professionals should encourage the friends and family of cancer patients to support them more in remaining physically activity, despite their condition.

Family and friends could be doing more harm than good by insisting people with cancer “take it easy” when they are going through treatment and recovery, suggested Macmillan Cancer Support.

“As healthcare professionals we have an important role in advising people with cancer to get moving”

Jane Maher

They have a crucial role in supporting people to become physically active, which evidence shows significantly benefits recovery and can avoid the disease progressing, said the charity.

It cited previous research indicating that a breast cancer patient’s risk of recurrence, and of dying from the disease, could potentially be reduced by as much as 40% through doing recommended levels of physical activity.

A new survey conducted by YouGov for Macmillan found 61% of people living with cancer said having family and friends as company when exercising would do more to help them become more physically active than cheap gym membership or advice on fitting physical activity into daily life.

The survey of 1,011 people living with cancer also found 25% had not done any physical activity that raised the heart rate in the last seven days, and 20% did not feel confident about becoming more active than they currently are.

Macmillan Cancer Support

Advise relatives to help cancer patients ‘get active’

Jane Maher

Professor Jane Maher, joint chief medical officer at Macmillan, said: “As healthcare professionals we have an important role in advising people with cancer to get moving, and because of the undeniable case for being active, this is increasingly being recognised.

“But we can’t underestimate the role that loved ones play in encouraging and supporting people with cancer in this way,” she said.

“The evidence is there and we simply can’t ignore it,” she said. “Being physically active could very well save your life – and this is the message we should be getting out to people.”

Macmillan added that it had developed a Move More support pack and its own physical activity scheme designed to help cancer patients get active to a level that is right for them.

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