Does Respite Really Matter?

13 July 2015

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

Common sense says that getting away from it all has a positive effect upon people’s well being and our ability to cope with what life throws at us. In fact, research undertaken by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) suggest that 80% of Brits took a break from their busy lives in the last year. On average, we take three short breaks / holidays every year!

People living with cancer are no different. In fact, you could argue that cancer patients are even more in need of some relaxing time away with their loved ones. When your  health fails, getting away from it all really does matter. This is why, as a charity, we provided over 450 people affected by cancer with over 2,500 respite days in 2014.

The feedback we receive from the people we have helped is universally positive.  This is why we have aspirations to provide 1,000 people with a respite break in a typical year in the future!

But what do the scientists say?

Are there physiological alongside the psychological benefits of spending some quality time away with your family?  Given our focus on sporting activities as a both vehicles for both fundraising and convalescence, we wanted to better understand the total impact.

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 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 for a day out or a short break!
  • 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 provide more respite breaks in future 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 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 and ‘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 well being benefits what the scientists believe is physiologically best for people under treatment or recovering from cancer. Watch this space!


Does Respite Really Matter?
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