Exercise Right for Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common form of all cancers among men, with 20,000 new cases in Australia diagnosed each, often referred to as the ‘old man’s disease’ with the median age at diagnosis being 71. Most common site of metastasis include the skeletal system of the body.


Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer may include:

  • Age (>50yr)
  • Family history
  • Poor diet
  • Sedentary exercise levels


Despite its prevalence in our society, prostate cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer with various forms of treatment available. Significant research has shown that exercise in conjunction with cancer specific treatments may slow the rate of progression and reduces recurrence of the cancer.


Common treatments for prostate cancer include:

  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Prostatectomy (if the cancer is still centrally located within prostate gland)
  • Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT- horemone treatment)

Why is it important to exercise?

Exercise plays a vital role in maintain a person’s health and wellbeing, and especially those men undergoing prostate cancer treatment such as Androgen Deprivation Therapy. Androgens are a class of male hormones that control the development and maintenance of male characteristics, such as testosterone. In the early stages, Androgens are necessary for the prostate cancer to grow and develop, which is why it’s vitally important that early detection of the cancer is made.


Exercise also helps to manage the effects of Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT). ADT stops the production of male hormones and as a result, the male may experience the following side effects:

  • Reduced bone mineral density
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increased fatigue
  • Increase cholesterol levels
  • Increased depression and cognitive function

Things to remember:

  • Always seek a medical clearance from or treating oncologist / urologist and GP prior to undertaking any form of physical activity.


How to Exercise Right for prostate cancer

Frequency: 3-5 times per week


Intensity: Work in between 13-15 on an RPE scale for aerobic activity. Resistance exercises include 6-8RM range to get most benefit


Type: All types of exercise are recommended for those undergoing prostate cancer treatments. Aerobic, resistance and flexibility / mobility exercises are vitally importnant.

Most importantly, resistance exercise helps to counteract those mentioned side-effects of the treatments, to maintain a healthy body weight, muscle mass, cardiovascular system and metabolic profile.


Time: 20-60 minutes of exercise per session


Exercise Fast Facts:


  • Men who walked at a pace >4.0km/h before cancer diagnosis, had more normally shaped blood vessels in their tumours once the cancer developed. Malformed tumours in a prostate cancer tumour have been associated with greater progression of the disease
  • Men who walked as a brisk pace for 90 minutes or more per week lowered their risk death from prostate cancer by 46%
  • Men who exercises vigorously (swim, bike, tennis, jogging etc.) three or more hours per week has a 61% lower risk of death from prostate cancer
  • Men diagnosed with prostate cancer who burned 12,600 kilojoules (kj) or more a week doing physical exercise, cut their risk of death by half