Publish date: 24 May 2023

Dr Jess Hale 2.jpeg
Dr Jess Hale with one of the smart watches

Clatterbridge cancer patients awaiting treatment with immunotherapy have the chance to get fitter and improve their chances of successful treatment through a university partnership.

The new pilot initiative offers patients at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust free digital smart watches linked to a bespoke exercise plan designed by clinical exercise experts at Liverpool John Moores University, which aims to help them become fitter in the lead up to, during and after their cancer treatment.

Studies have shown that getting regular exercise can cut your chances of developing cancer but it can also help people who have the disease to prepare for treatment that they may find challenging – and can help them better cope with the after effects of that treatment.

Fatigue is one of the main problems that patients report when they are being treated with immunotherapy, which is therapy that helps the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Exercise can reduce tiredness and also helps to promote a better mental health and a healthy way of life.

The personalised fitness programme that patients can join – called MOTIVATE – has been developed by a team at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and up to 40 Clatterbridge patients can take part as part of the initial pilot.

The exercise the patients do, in the comfort of their own homes, is remotely monitored by the LJMU team through the smart watches the patients wear, linked to their phones. Patients receive personalised text messages and can have digital meetings with university-based exercise specialists to discuss their activity and progress.

Patients joining the exercise programme will be screened for suitability and given a fitness plan unique to them. They can pause their activity at any stage if they feel too unwell to take part. 

Dr Jess Hale, a Registrar at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, is leading the £40,000 project together with Dr Anna Olsson-Brown, a medical Oncology Consultant in Melanoma and specialist in immunotherapy, which is being funded by Clatterbridge Cancer Charity.

She said: “This home-based exercise programme is designed, together with patients, based on their fitness levels and delivered straight to patients’ watches in their own home. Patients receive regular meetings and feedback with an exercise professional, meaning they are supported and feel safe to be more active during their treatment.

“This remote exercise solution bridges the gap between supervised exercise and basic physical activity advice, enabling more patients to safely engage in regular long-term physically active lifestyles.”