Allison Betof-Warner, Ph.D., M.D., and practicing oncologist, talks with Mike Giardina at the 2022 CrossFit Games about updated cancer exercise guidelines and training active and beyond-cancer athletes. Dr. Betof-Warner explains how, traditionally, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) would put out guidelines for cancer survivors which would be extrapolated to those currently undergoing treatment. Within the last two years, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) released its own set of guidelines for both active and beyond-cancer patients. These guidelines include: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise — broken up however necessary — or 75 minutes of vigorous activity with the new addition of two to three days of resistance training; guidelines that fit well within the walls of the CrossFit affiliate.
Dr. Betof-Warner also discusses the relationship between exercise and cancer treatment. Cancer treatment can come with some severe physical side effects, such as decreased bone mass, decreased muscle mass, and a decrease in oxygen consumption and utilization (VO2). Exercising during treatment can counteract these side effects, explains Dr. Betof-Warner. And, exercise can assist in making cancer treatments more effective, she adds.
When training an active cancer patient or a survivor, it is important to ask some specific questions before the training starts. Dr. Betof-Warner lists the following questions as some of the most important to start with. First, make sure the athlete is comfortable sharing their condition with others in the class. If not, you may have to keep their diagnosis between you and the other coaches in the affiliate. Ask them where they are in their cancer treatment journey. Make sure you are aware of any of their functional limitations and ensure they have discussed these with their medical provider. Lastly, ask if you can contact their medical provider in order to create a functioning team, providing the athlete with optimal results. These teams are necessary to bridge the gap between fitness and healthcare.
For more information on Dr. Betof-Warner, find her on social media at IG:@jockmeetsnerd and Facebook: @Allison Scahill Betof Warner.