INTRODUCTION & AIMS

This study aimed to establish a low-cost, sustainable exercise program for cancer patients in Gippsland, Australia, where access to such programs was previously limited. By developing and implementing a collaborative program, the program aimed to improve the physical and psycho-social well-being of cancer patients while reducing burden on healthcare services.

METHODS

Collaboration between Latrobe Community Health Service, Morwell Leisure Centre, and Gippsland Integrated Cancer Service led to the development of a prescriptive exercise program to provide cancer survivors a sustainable cost-effective exercise and cancer program in a community leisure centre. Exercise physiologists provided initial assessments, in which clients allocated to group-based, one-on-one, or home-based exercise sessions.

RESULTS

After 12 weeks in the program, 100% of participants that had a reassessment improved on at least one physical test and all improved on a subjective measure like fatigue, depression, or self-worth. On average, they saw a 14.88% increase in leg strength, a 12.70% increase in grip strength, and a 16.65% increase in aerobic fitness. Additionally, they reported an average decrease in anxiety (10.96%), depression (1.59%), fatigue (6.09%), and reported illness symptoms (5.24%). Overall, participant feedback was overwhelmingly positive, highlighting the benefits of the program’s psycho-social support and the opportunity to exercise outside a healthcare setting.

CONCLUSION

Collaboration between healthcare and leisure centres can provide sustainable and cost-effective exercise programs for cancer patients, improving physical and psycho-social well-being while reducing healthcare burden. Participants valued the support, social interaction, and sense of belonging provided by the program.

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Author notes

First author’s contact: [email protected]