He said: “We are seeing more and more research advocating the benefits of exercise to the physical and mental health of patients recovering from bowel cancer – and some other cancers – so it should definitely be seen as best practice to recommend low-impact exercise, such as walking, to patients in these situations.
“There is also evidence that exercise can reduce the risk in developing further, unrelated cancers – as well as other conditions, such as heart disease and dementia – in patients who have already had cancer, as is currently the case in over half of cancer patients who have survived more than ten years.
“There is no reason why GPs and other healthcare professionals should not recommend exercise to patients recovering from cancer, if they are physically and medically fit to undertake it. It is already happening in some parts of the country, with some areas offering NHS part-funded community exercise schemes that GPs can refer cancer patients to.
“Cancer is an enduring priority for the Royal College of GPs and we are doing a lot of work to support GPs in treating their patients with cancer, including running Cancer Education Days which have focussed on the role of exercise in cancer patients.”
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Notes to editor
The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.