6 July 2016
Charity reveals what puts people off getting active
New findings from Macmillan Cancer Support reveal why some people with cancer struggle to get physically active, despite evidence published earlier this week showing that it can reduce the risk of cancer coming back and of dying from the disease1.
The YouGov research conducted for Macmillan Cancer Support being launched at the Cancer Data and Outcomes Conference in Manchester tomorrow [Monday 13th June] showed that top concerns included:
- worrying about being able to find a toilet (36%)
- feeling uncomfortable getting active in public (31%)
- feeling unable to wear gym kit or a swimming costume (24%)2
The research, based on a survey of 1,011 people living with cancer, also revealed that a quarter of people (25%) living with cancer have not done any physical activity that raised their heart rate in the last seven days3.
Cancer can have an impact on a person’s self-esteem, particularly due to consequences of treatment such as physical scarring, changes to weight, or incontinence. Macmillan Cancer Support is encouraging people affected by the disease to find an activity they feel comfortable and continues to promote the benefits of being physically active.
Fiona, 48, from Shropshire was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and still experiences the long term effects of her treatment. She says getting active was key to her recovery:
“I’d always been a swimmer, but nearly a year after my mastectomy I was still coming to terms with how my body now looked. The idea of getting into a swimming costume horrified me. I worried everyone would be staring at my scars, or even worse that my breast prosthesis would fall out of my swimsuit. It took an awful lot of courage to overcome my fears about what other people would think or whether I’d be able to swim again like I used to.
“But no-one gave me a second look in the changing rooms and as soon as I got back in the water I felt alive again. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Cancer takes a lot out of you so I started slowly but surely, but gradually, stroke by stroke, my energy and my confidence started to return both in the pool and out of it. Now I want to stay as fit and active as I can be – and I wear my mastectomy swimsuit with pride!”
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“When you’re living with things like surgical scars, need to go to the toilet frequently as a result of your cancer treatment, or simply feel low in energy the idea of getting active can be very daunting and you may feel self conscious about doing so.
“But the benefits of being physically active for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer are too important to ignore. Not only can it reduce the risk of dying from the disease it can also lower the chances of it coming back.
“Being active doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym in lycra or doing anything you’re not comfortable with. We recommend that people start out small and work up to a level that is right for them. Whether it’s walking to the local shop, doing some gardening or yoga in the comfort of your own home – every little helps.”
The charity has provided some top tips to help people affected by cancer to get started and stay motivated:
- Set goals you can achieve and celebrate reaching them.
- Walk or cycle to the shops and take the stairs instead of the lift.
- Listen to your body and only do as much as you can. Something is always better than nothing.
- Get a friend or family member to join you.
For more information on keeping active before, during or after cancer treatment, visit www.macmillan.org.uk/physicalactivity
For further information, please contact:
Claire McMahon, Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7091 2103 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
1 Randomized trial of exercise vs. usual care on cancer biomarkers in ovarian cancer survivors: The Women's Activity and Lifestyle Study in Connecticut (WALC). Brenda Cartmel, Yang Zhou, Linda Gottlieb, et al. Presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference 2016.
Impact of weight loss and exercise on VEGF levels in breast cancer survivors. Tara Beth Sanft, Brenda Cartmel, Maura Harrigan, et al. Presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference 2016.
2 Source: Macmillan/YouGov online survey of 1,011 adults in the UK aged 18 and over with a previous cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork was conducted between 10th and 17th December 2015. The figures have been weighted to be representative of people living with cancer. People were asked about seven factors that may make them more likely to be physically active, including: having a friend or family member to do activities with, having more or better information on what activities would be right for them, advice on how to fit physical activity into their daily routine, having access to a cheap or cheaper gym membership, having easier access to group activities, having greater access to public toilets, and having access to group activities for people living with cancer. Percentages were calculated by those who have reported having physical or emotional impacts as a result of their cancer or cancer treatment and responded always, often and sometimes to the following questions: How often have any of your concerns relating specifically to led to you experiencing any of the following? 1. Being worried you wouldn’t be able to find a toilet if needed when being physically active outside of your home 2. Not feeling able to be active around other people 3. Not feeling able to wear gym kit or a swimming costume.
3 Source: Macmillan/YouGov online survey of 1,011 adults aged 18 and over with a previous cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork conducted between 10th and 17th December 2015. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the living with cancer population.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk