Traditionally cancer patients with bone metastases are told to avoid physical activity, due to concerns of fragility fracture. Contrary to popular belief, recent studies are showing traditional recommendations may not be the most effective. Instead, resistance training and aerobic exercise programs designed to avoid loading potentially fragile sites of bone metastases, are both safe and effective for patients.1
Deposits of cancer in bones are called ‘bone metastases’ or ‘bone secondaries’2 and may cause a range of symptoms including pain. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. 3 Endorphins released from simple exercise may act as analgesia and can also stimulate a positive feeling in the body. Low impact walking, swimming, aqua aerobics and even yoga is recommended for patients with bone metastases. Exercising with cancer pain doesn’t have to be strenuous. In fact, simple exercises, such as walking, can be very beneficial in helping you manage cancer as well as cancer pain symptoms. 4
Creating an exercise program, exercising with friends, listening to music or a podcast and alternating the activities may keep the program interesting. Before commencing any form of exercise, advice must be obtained from your medical specialist. All exercises should be conducted in a safe environment and obtain advice from a trainer or organisation who has knowledge of cancer care exercises and has managed patients with cancer. Even in a group class, simply inform the instructor of any limitations, and they can determine what’s appropriate and safe and adapt the program. All exercise programs must be closely monitored, reviewed and updated regularly for patients with Bone Metastases.
Many studies of Bone Metastases and Exercise are being undertaken and a program developed by Professor Robert Newton and Professor Daniel Galvao at the Health and Wellness Institute at Edith Cowan University is a world first. The focus of their program was to modify the exercise prescription in order to minimise physical loading of bones containing sclerotic lesions, which was found to be very safe and highly effective. 5
Exercise has so many benefits and patients with Bone Metastases will be able to enjoy those benefits in a specialised and low impact exercise program.
- Bone Metastases, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute