Exercise improves life with prostate cancer

Associate Professor Liisa Laakso
Associate Professor Liisa Laakso

There are few people who have undergone radiotherapy and chemotherapy who would describe it as anything less than awful, both the disease and the side-effects of the treatment.
Men with prostate cancer undergo unique psychological and physical barriers to maximising their health, but a Griffith Health Institute (GHI) study has found exercise may play a vital role for men, especially if it is tailored to the individual.
Small steps, big results
A team from GHI’s Behavioural Basis of Health research group led by Associate Professor Liisa Laakso, collaborated with the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital to develop programs which would motivate very sick men to get up and do some exercise.
The results were significant rises in physical health, mental health and cognitive ability.
“It was an utterly perfect outcome in gauging the improvement in motivation, an improvement in quality of life,” said Associate Professor Laakso.
“Obviously this is not about making people fit and active, it’s about getting very sick men engaged in some physical activity, which is not directly related to their treatment.”
Getting away from treatment for a while
“Cancer treatment is such an all consuming thing that patients often think about little else, everything is very close up.
“The right kind of exercise clears the mind for a short time, gets the serotonin going and obviously has the usual physical benefits, the trick is, finding the right kind of exercise.”
Three groups participated in two different methods; group one did six weeks of continuous exercise for 30 minutes, group two did intermittent exercise for an hour. The third group did no exercise.
The exercise groups varied in their relative physical benefits, but their improvement in self motivation and perceived competence
was a dramatic improvement over men who didn’t exercise.