Beyond the Badge – Practitioner Profile: Jason Canterford

Kate Williams Cancer and Exercise, Exercise for Cancer, Exercise Oncology, Exercise Physiology, Movement Against Cancer

Take us down the path that led you to become an EP?

I’ve always been fascinated by the incredible human body, how we can rehabilitate back to bigger and better than ever, and how exercise can be (just about) the answer to all of life’s problems. Unfortunately, a tragic junior football and tennis career put my elite athlete career to bed, but what’s the next closest thing to being on the field? Being on the sideline and helping people be their best. Throughout my Exercise Physiology studies at La Trobe in Bendigo, I found I was also enjoying working with clinical based populations the most and seeing the truly meaningful changes I could have on their life. From there I had a change of paths to pursue the clinical practice side of Exercise Physiology and haven’t looked back since. 

What’s the best thing about working in Exercise Oncology?

As said above, I love seeing the incredible, meaningful difference exercise physiology can make to people’s lives. As an example, something as simple as helping someone to build leg muscle again after chemotherapy might not sound exciting for many people, but that could mean that the client is then able to get out of the house more, play with their kids more or get back to a sport they love. Hearing those meaningful changes never fails to bring a smile to my face.

I also love the challenge that every cancer patient brings through the door. Although diagnoses may be similar, no two people are exactly the same. That challenge of figuring out how I can best help this person to achieve their goals is another thing I really enjoy. 

What’s your own exercise routine look like?

I’m typically a big creature of habit, but this year I’m trying to shake things up and get into more regular running. Starting at 4-5 km distances several times per week, I’m building up to 10+ km distances over the next few months. I compliment this with getting to the gym 2 or 3 times a week to keep injuries away as well. 

My 10-month-old daughter (Aurelia) and border collie (Carner) also love going on long walks and bike rides, so these are a regular part of the weekly routine too (and definitely my favourite).

What motivates you and challenges you to be active?

As a dad, I want to be as fit and active as possible to be a good role model for my daughter. I want to be strong enough to always be able to pick her up and fit enough to be able to run around all day with her as well. 

I always find having an upcoming fitness challenge or event motivates me to train harder and more frequently. I’ve previously done things like fun runs, social sports tournaments and stadium stair climbing events. There’s nothing like a dangling carrot of competition to push yourself that little bit harder. 

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Family time is a big value of mine. Working full time can have its challenges, so I always prioritise them first when I’m home. It’s super fun exploring the world with a whole new perspective. 

Between the exercise bouts, I’m also a bedroom guitarist, so I love jamming around on my acoustic guitar and learning how to play new songs. The Hawthorn Football Club always gets TV priority whenever they’re playing & our home car racing-simulator also gets fired up after bedtime sometime too (self-confessed petrolhead). 

How is 2023 shaping up for you?

I’m super excited for 2023. I’ve got a few personal fitness challenges coming up later in the year: MCG Stadium Stomp, Run Melbourne 10km, Melbourne Half-Marathon (*TBA) which I can’t wait for. There will be lots of “leg days”, so if you see me crawling around the clinic looking sore, that will be why! My little girl turns 1 soon too, so I’m very excited to watch her grow as we continue to explore the world over the next 12 months. 

I’m also looking forward to continuing to learn more about the latest oncology-based research. There are a lot of exciting studies being undertaken at the moment, so I can’t wait to see how we can implement them to give our clients the best in exercise oncology care.