Does Respite really matter? This is what the scientists say…

Common sense says that getting away from it has a positive effect upon people’s wellbeing and ability to cope with what life throws at them. In fact research by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) suggest that 80% of Brits took a break from their busy lives in the last year and on average three holidays were taken.

People living with cancer are no different to you or I in the need to take a break. As a charity that provided over 450 people affected by cancer with over 2500 respite days in 2014, common sense suggests that when health fails getting away from it really does matter as bucket lists become top of mind.

With aspirations to provide 1000 people with respite in a typical year, we know what people say about the benefits they get when they come back from our trips and these personal accounts are universally positive.

But what do the scientists say?

Are there physiological alongside psychological benefits of respite? With our launch of www.ski4cancer.org alongside existing www.run4cancer.org, www.bike4cancer.org and where it all started www.sail4cancer.org we were keen to find out.

We initially posed some big questions to Dr Clare Stevinson, from the School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, at Loughborough University including:

What impact does respite have on cancer patients and their families?
What impact does exercise have once cancer patients are in treatment?
What impact does ongoing exercise have on cancer prevention?

Initially Clare has provided us with a view and report based upon what research is already out there. Why reinvent the wheel?

Clare explains what she concluded…

“, As a researcher in physical activity and health, I was keen to work with the 4 cancer group to explore the benefits that respite provides for people in very difficult circumstances. The conclusions of my research were that:

The preliminary evidence available to date suggests that holiday provision can make a positive contribution to psychological and social well-being among disadvantaged groups. This is attributed largely to the opportunity for quality time with family members, meeting new people, and for a break from usual routines. Cancer patients express continued desire to take holidays after treatment, but for many, destination choices are influenced by their health needs.”

Physical activity in general is associated with a reduced risk of cancer overall, with the evidence being strongest for bowel cancer and postmenopausal breast cancer. The best amount or types of activity is not clear, but there are indications that strenuous activities (e.g. running, vigorous sports) may have greater effects than moderate intensity exercise (e.g. walking, gentle cycling)”

In addition to having a protective role against cancer, there is evidence that physical activity can benefit individuals following a cancer diagnosis. These benefits include physical function, psychological well-being, and cancer recurrence and survival.”

So what next?

If you read this and think…

I know someone who can benefit from respite – why not nominate them
If you have an opinion on our research or could add to it , let us know. Why not share it with your social network and see what they think?
If you want to help us to provide 1000 people with cancer treatment respite in a year and can help by donating money, time, contacts or expertise please let us know.
If you are an enthusiastic sailor, skier, runner or cyclist why not come talk to us about events you may be planning where we can work together.

Where next for research?

The 4 Cancer Group is keen to keep going with our research agenda to do our bit. Now that we are providing respite to families affected by cancer at sea level through Sail 4 Cancer and at altitude with Ski 4 Cancer we are keen to understand beyond the wellbeing benefits what the scientists believe is physiologically best for people under treatment or recovering from cancer. Watch this space!