Workshop at next summit: Paving the way for physical exercise in cancer care


Physical exercise during cancer treatment increase strength and endurance, but also provides social support and inspiration to keep moving. Researchers from the Phys-Can project in Sweden are hoping to integrate these findings into routine cancer care.

In this interview, Dr. Ingrid Demmelmaier, Associate Professor, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, and co-organizer of the workshop explains more.

Several research projects around the world, including the Swedish Phys-Can project, have concluded that exercise during cancer treatment has a number of benefits. In your view, what are the biggest obstacles to incorporate exercise into routine cancer care?

– Despite the need for cost-effective alternatives in health care, there are several questions around implementation such as Who should pay? In Sweden, the resource and economic system of health care is not built in a way that the system would benefit from reduced costs for sick leave. Also, How can we engage actors outside health care and who should motivate the patients to carry on their new routines? There are insufficient collaborations between hospitals, primary care and gyms etc. Patients need information about the benefits and practical support to get started, especially if you are not already somebody who is exercising on a regular basis. So with this workshop, we are looking for inspiration to take the next steps!

Is there any type of exercise that is more efficient than others?

– Research reviews show that both endurance training and weight training provide improve health-related quality of life and physical function for the patients – but we need more research on the how intensive the training should be. It is interesting to observe that supervised exercise tend to give better effect. What is most important though is to make sure that the exercise actually happens. It could be walking, jogging, muscle strength - training or different types of group training. Try to find an activity that feels positive and bring company if that helps!

‚ÄčWho would you like to see in your workshop at Uppsala Health Summit?

– Decision-makers at all levels, both political and within health care, as well as health care personnel and patient representatives. We need all categories of actors to get as many perspectives on the issue at stake so that we can think in new ways about solutions. There is so much we can gain from physical exercise in cancer care!

Thank you!