As we wrap up prostate cancer awareness month, a.k.a. September, I’ve been reflecting on the changes to our group classes this year. At the beginning of the year, our classes ran as normal, complete with cycling sprints, boxing circuits, resistance exercises and balance circuits. These were all accompanied by a healthy dose of chatting and music requests, of course!
By the end of March, we found ourselves flung out of the exercise studio, and into the world of video calls, where phrases like ‘you need to un-mute yourself, I have no idea what you just said’, and ‘can you shift your camera-angle? I can only see your knees’, became daily occurrences.
As with almost all cancers, including prostate cancer, older adults are disproportionately affected, leading to a sudden technology-shaped barrier between us and our clients. However, I can say with confidence that I have yet to find a person I cannot teach how to engage with us via video call.
Although the classes themselves have changed a little on the surface – we do shadow boxing and use household objects as substitutes for weights or objects to step over or tap for balance, at the foundation our classes are the same – spaces of support, motivation, laughter, and exercise.
It has been well studied that individuals with a cancer diagnosis benefit more from group (supervised) exercise programs in the domains of anxiety, depression and health-related quality of life, than when exercising alone1. I believe these aspects of health are particularly important at this time when we are more isolated than ever before.
Also, a small study looked at the benefits of group exercise class attendance for men with prostate cancer, finding that participants benefitted physically and mentally, and reported that support from men who had had similar shared experiences gave them a unique sense of social connection2.
Although we do not have evidence of the benefits of exercise via video classes, I’m so grateful for the technology that has kept us connected and made the continuation of our group classes possible.
- Campbell, K. L., et al. (2019). Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors: Consensus Statement from International Multidisciplinary Roundtable. American College of Sports Medicine.
- Cormie, P. (2015). A Qualitative Exploration of the Experience of Men with Prostate Cancer Involved in Supervised Exercise Programs. Oncology Nursing Forum. 42(1), 24-32.