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Cancer patients to be offered ‘prehab’ gym sessions to speed up recovery

Plan includes three fitness sessions a week and mental health support

NHS cancer patients are to be offered gym sessions before they start chemotherapy under plans that aim to speed up recovery and boost survival.

Thousands of patients will be referred for a “prehab” fitness programme within 48 hours of being diagnosed.

It aims to make patients “match fit” ahead of chemotherapy or major surgery.

The programme will involve three fitness sessions a week, with a mix of high intensity cardio workouts and strength-based training. There will also be nutritional advice and mental health support.

More than 500 patients are already taking part in the exercise programme in Greater Manchester, and another 2,000 are expected to participate over the next two years.

Similar services are being run in London, Leicester and Yorkshire, BBC News reports.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said cancer treatments can take a toll on the body, despite working better than ever.

“There’s increasing evidence that it’s really worth trying to get match fit ahead of chemo or major surgery,” he added. “In effect you are ‘priming’ your own recovery before your treatment even begins.”

June Davis, an adviser at Macmillan Cancer Support, said prehabilitation can support people to prepare both physically and mentally for treatment, reclaim a sense of control and improve their health in the long-term.