An older man runs with a happy expression on his face, surrounded by other runners.

It's (Not Just) an Age Thing

Last updated: November 2022

People look at me and see someone who looks reasonably fit and well and still manages to run every day. But I don’t think that they truly understand the impact that my cancer diagnosis and longterm hormone therapy has had on me. They might think that they do, but I’m not convinced.

The impact of hormone therapy

A friend recently told me that I was getting slower at running because I was older, and it wasn’t just down to the cancer treatment. There’s certainly some merit in that. But then I look at people who I was always a fair bit faster than and are a few years older than me and see the times that they do in races, and I can’t dream of matching them nowadays. That’s the impact of the cancer treatment and nothing to do with aging!

When you encounter the horrible side effects of longterm hormone therapy, fatigue, weight gain, muscle loss and reduced bone density being the ones that impact mostly on athleticism, it’s a constant daily reminder that you simply can’t do what you used to as well as you could pre-treatment.

I’m blessed that I’m still able to run and exercise daily, and I know others with similar diagnoses to mine who can’t. I’m grateful that I can still do what I do.

Being aware of my limitations

I realize now that I have to be very aware of my limitations. On a recent hiking holiday to the Italian Dolomites, there were hikes that I’d done a number of times pre-diagnosis that were simply beyond my capabilities now. Yes, probably a bit of that to do with age, but mainly to do with side effects. I know I would have been able to do more if it weren’t for treatment!

I still enter running races because it’s been a big part of my life, but now it's more for fun than competition. I don’t want to be last, though. At a recent trail race I finished 300th out of 500. Not too bad given the circumstances.

The benefits of exercise

Most importantly there is evidence that exercise can be beneficial for those living with and beyond cancer. It’s good for our physical and mental well-being. A 2022 study showed that longterm hormone therapy may be associated with greater cardiovascular risks.1 That alone is good reason why I think men living with and beyond prostate cancer should exercise regularly.

Here in the UK, we also have parkrun, which is a free weekly timed run, jog, or walk in several hundred parks across the UK. It’s an amazing movement with a brilliant sense of community, but very importantly we now have over 1,600 GP practices prescribing parkrun instead of medication with I think outstanding results. When you add in 5K Your Way, which is a cancer support group that is at selected parkruns across the UK, the power of parkrun becomes even mightier.

On the final Saturday of the month the 5kyw participants come together and do 5k their way. Most walk, some jog, some run, and others just volunteer or cheer. Then we head for coffee and cake to support each other. It’s a wonderful initiative that I’m truly proud to be part of the development of.

To close we should all remember that, "if exercise were a pill, we’d all be taking it."

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