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Pioneering exercise research centre to open for people with cancer

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Nikki Brady


Cancer patients in Yorkshire will be offered a new exercise and wellbeing support service with the opening of a new research centre.

Member of the Active Together team with patient in purpose-built exercise studio

The Yorkshire Cancer Research Centre is due to open in autumn 2023 at Hornbeam Park in Harrogate. The Centre will offer free, personalised fitness, nutrition and wellbeing support to help people with cancer prepare for, respond to and recover after treatment, with an aim to increase the likelihood of survival and reduce the risk of cancer coming back.

The programme will help generate the data and evidence needed to drive forward worldwide understanding of exercise as a treatment for cancer patients.

Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said:

“By providing specialist exercise support and researching the best way to deliver this, Yorkshire will be at the forefront of exercise as a treatment, not only supporting those who take part but also informing future cancer treatment in the UK and elsewhere in the world too."

Our vision is that one day everyone with a cancer diagnosis in Yorkshire can benefit from these services.

Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research

The programme will build on the success of the charity’s Active Together service in Sheffield, which was launched in February 2022, in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. So far it has helped more than 370 people with cancer.

Evidence shows that exercise before, during and after a cancer diagnosis can increase treatment options, while reducing side effects and complications and also speeding up recovery from other treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy.

Exercise can also increase the likelihood of survival. It can reduce the risk of dying by up to 47% in those who are physically active compared with those who are inactive², and the risk of cancer coming back in the future could be reduced by up to 66%¹.

Being physically active

is shown to have a positive effect for people with cancer

However, more clinical trials and studies are needed to generate evidence on the types of exercise that work best, the duration and intensity of exercise and the frequency of exercise that gives the best chance of survival. A greater understanding of exercise in relation to different types of cancer and how it works alongside different treatments is also required.

Dr Scott said:

“Despite clear evidence that being physically active is safe and has a positive effect for people with cancer, exercise services are not routinely available and most patients are not as active as they could be following a diagnosis.

"While we wait for the findings of future research, patients are missing out on a treatment that could have multiple benefits. It’s important that patients are provided with personalised, evidence-based support from qualified health professionals to become active.”

Active Together patients completing exercises Active Together patients using outdoor exercise equipment

The new £3.5 million Centre in Harrogate will incorporate a café, shop and donation centre where preloved items can be dropped off for sale in the charity’s shops, as well as being home to the charity’s head office. Up to 1,500 people living in North and West Yorkshire, including Leeds, are expected to benefit from the service during its first three years.

Over the next 10 years, Yorkshire Cancer Research plans to open at least four new fitness and wellbeing centres across the region. In addition, programmes will be funded at hospitals and in local communities. Together, these projects will form the biggest global study into exercise and cancer.

“Our long-term goal is for these programmes to become a standard part of care embedded in and delivered by the NHS across Yorkshire and beyond. Data from our funded work will be published to provide critical evidence for national decision making and influence future global research and policy.

Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research

“The new Centre and the contribution it will make to worldwide cancer research is attracting significant international philanthropic interest and funding, placing Yorkshire at the very heart of worldwide cancer research and innovation.”

Every 17 minutes someone is diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire

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