Pioneering cancer prehabilitation

BH Live has joined forces with leading clinical researchers and health partners to deliver a pioneering exercise and wellbeing programme for cancer patients awaiting surgery across the Wessex region.

Called the WesFit study, this clinical research programme is led by Professor Sandy Jack of the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

It is funded by NHS England Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and coordinated by the Wessex Cancer Alliance. This unique funding model has provided the opportunity to design a program combining the rigour of a randomised, controlled clinical trial with the nimbleness of a clinical service evaluation.

WesFit is being delivered through collaboration between local hospitals, fitness centres and charitable trusts.

Together, the team is discovering more about the effects of exercise on the physical health and psychological wellbeing of cancer patients before, during and after treatment.

Initial research by the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre’s team, led by Professor Mike Grocott, has suggested that a tailored exercise programme carried out before treatment can improve physical fitness, wellbeing and outcomes from surgery.

“Research tells us that patients who are physically more active and fitter in the run up to surgery have displayed a better recovery, explains Prof Sandy Jack.

“So far, patients who have completed a pre-surgery exercise programme have improved or returned to their pre-treatment fitness levels. In comparison, those who didn’t complete the programme found that their fitness levels remained relatively similar or dropped, particularly if they had been treated with chemotherapy.”

“Psychologically, the results have been encouraging too. Patients reported that by taking proactive steps to improve their outcomes before treatment, they have experienced a greater sense of camaraderie, peer support and control.”

Following his operation and successful recovery, the first patient to be recruited to the trial in Bournemouth commented that “it’s important to be as fit as you possibly can be and yes, I think it was a good exercise”. You can see his story, as told to South Today at:

Based on these successes, the programme is now expanding to broaden its reach and enable more people to take part.

Littledown Centre in Bournemouth, operated by BH Live, will be the first health centre in Dorset to offer this service, through its collaboration with The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Wessex Cancer Trust Bournemouth.

Participants will receive a combination of exercises and/or psychological support, delivered by personal trainers who are trained to support cancer patients.

Mike Lyons, BH Live’s Director of Sport and Leisure said, “The benefits around patients exercising before surgery are proving to be considerable. By being active in a familiar non clinical community setting, all the physical benefits are reached alongside a feeling of normalcy.

“This is a superb example of how health partners, venue operators and researchers are collaborating to improve community wellbeing and provide better patient outcomes.”

It is anticipated that the exercise programme will be rolled out across more centres in the coming months. The long-term hope is that this will become part of standard care for patients with cancer across the region. In the meantime, following a cancer diagnosis and under the guidance of a GP, the NHS recommends at least 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity exercise on five days per week, such as brisk walking or cycling on the flat.

To find out more about the programme email

Follow on Twitter @WesFit_trial


Notes to Editors:

Photo caption

Wesfit clinical research sessions at Littledown Centre, Bournemouth with representatives from BH Live, University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.


About BH Live

BH Live is the south coast’s leading operator of leisure and event venues; a social enterprise that designs and builds engaging experiences to inspire people and enrich lives.

With 3.4 million visits a year and over £39 million turnover we are changing lives and are at the heart of the UK’s growing social economy.

In 2016/17 we had 2.9 million leisure centre attendances, hosted more than 500 events and sold over half a million cultural, sporting and entertainment event tickets. We also welcomed 100,000 conference and exhibition delegates into our venues. This contributed an estimated £44 million to the local economy through business and cultural tourism.

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For more information about BH Live please contact:

Elizabeth Symmons, PR & Corporate Communications Executive
T: (01202) 055562