EXercise for Cancer to Enhance Living Well

New exercise oncology programs begin in April 2024

EXercise for Cancer to Enhance Living Well (EXCEL) is a research study, providing exercise programs to rural and remote individuals living with and beyond cancer, across Canada.

Whether you are interested in participating in an exercise oncology program, referring a patient to a program, or receiving training in exercise oncology, we can help. Scroll through this page, or click on a red button below to take you to the section you are looking for. 

What is EXCEL?

In this video, learn what the EXCEL program is all about. Watch now! 


About the program:

The EXCEL Study provides a free 8-12-week exercise program, for people undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment, living in rural and remote regions across Canada. This evidence-based program is taught by fitness professionals trained in exercise oncology.

Classes are delivered online through a secure video-conferencing platform. Where possible, the programs are in-person. These group classes run for 60 minutes, twice a week for 8-12 weeks. They are offered three times a year: January, April, and September.

The programs focus on:

  • cardiovascular
  • resistance training
  • balance
  • stretching

In addition to the exercise program, instructors review education topics on behaviour change and provide you with tools to continue staying active, even after the classes end. 


New programs start the week of April 9th, 2024. 


8-12 weeks, depending on program

Two, 60-minute classes per week


Programs are FREE


Online and in some locations, in-person - get in touch to learn more! Call 403-210-8482 or email: wellnesslab@ucalgary.ca.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise has many physical and psychological benefits for those living with and beyond cancer:

  • Decreases fatigue
  • Improves physical function
  • Improves ability to do daily activities
  • Boosts mood and energy
  • Enhances sleep and recovery
  • Increases social and emotional wellbeing

To hear more about the benefits, read some participant testimonials

Eligibility to Participate

  • Have/had a cancer diagnosis
  • 18+ years old and able to consent in English
  • Able to participate in mild/moderate physical activity
  • Currently in pre-cancer/cancer treatment, or within 3 years of completing treatment*

*If you are still experiencing cancer or treatment related side-effects, beyond 3 years post-treatment, please get in touch with us!

How the assessments work

This program is part of a study. To evaluate the study’s effectiveness, participants will complete a fitness assessment before and after the exercise program. Each assessment will take approximately 30 minutes and will include:

  • Medical history and demographic information
  • 6-minute walk test or 2-minute step test to assess aerobic fitness
  • Muscular endurance tests
  • Core and shoulder flexibility test
  • A standing balance test
  • Height and weight measurements

Participants will be asked to complete questionnaires to assess individual symptoms, quality of life, and physical activity levels. Questionnaires will be completed before the program, after the program, at 24 weeks, at one year and annually for up to five years.

How to Join

Contact us at 403-210-8482 or email: wellnesslab@ucalgary.ca.

If you are from Alberta, but do not live in a remote or rural community, check out the ACE program

Healthcare Providers

Referring patients to the program

Healthcare professionals are key to connecting patients with exercise resources and programs. Exercise is an important, evidence-based tool that can improve the physical and mental health of those living with and beyond cancer. EXCEL's Clinical Exercise Physiologists will triage your patient into the appropriate class. Instructors trained in exercise oncology will tailor exercises to suit your patient's needs.

To refer your patient to an exercise program:

  • Please provide your patient with a study brochure so they can self-refer (please get in touch if you'd like brochures).
  • Or, directly refer by emailing us at wellnesslab@ucalgary.ca. Include their first name and the method of contact they have consented to.
doctor speaking to a patient

Two women working out

Exercise Professionals

Our goal is to facilitate the development of referral networks between healthcare providers and local exercise professionals, trained to delivering exercise oncology programs. By building partnerships in rural communities, EXCEL facilitates patient transition from clinical care to the EXCEL program in their region. 

Our training pathway provides specialized training exercise professionals to confidently work with people impacted by cancer.



  • Fitness certification – clinical exercise physiologist, registered kinesiologist, certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor etc.
  • Professional indemnity insurance


Training program details

As an exercise professional in our network, you will have access to:

  • The Thrive Health Cancer and Exercise Training. Learn more.  
  • EXCEL Training Day (online): provides information on study logistics and program delivery expectations. Also, learn how to deliver our “exercise and educate” approach to foster a positive motivational climate and integrate behaviour change resources into programs.
  • Opportunities to shadow and moderate (actively assist) EXCEL programs.
  • Recordings of previous training events/webinars and invitations to all future training opportunities.
  • EXCEL newsletter, updating on study progress and community/fitness professional highlights – learn more about our team that is growing across the country.
  • Paid opportunity to deliver online and/or in-person EXCEL programs in your community, upon completion of training. This is contingent on having enough participant referrals into the programs – your insight on how to increase awareness in your community will be critical for program success. 


How to get involved

To register your interest and to help the EXCEL team learn more about you, please complete our survey and our team will be in touch. Have questions? Contact us at wellnesslab@ucalgary.ca

Exercise for Cancer to Enhance Living Well (EXCEL)

About our programs

By partnering with healthcare providers and community fitness experts, we offer evidence-based exercise programs that are implemented in Alberta, through the Alberta Cancer Exercise (ACE)  program. In the Maritimes, a program based on ACE called Activating Cancer Communities through an Exercise Strategy for Survivors (ACCESS) is part of EXCEL. These programs create accessible, effective, and enjoyable exercise resources for cancer survivors, across Canada.  

Now through our EXCEL program, we are implementing exercise programs so that rural and remote individuals living with cancer, across Canada can benefit from exercise as a self-management strategy to improve overall physical activity levels, health, and quality of life. 

All three sponsors

EXCEL is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the Alberta Cancer Foundation

Contact Us

Have a question? Interested in joining us?

  • Telephone:  403-210-8482
  • Email:        wellnesslab@ucalgary.ca


Message to our website visitors

Material on this website has been designed for information purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction, and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or an appropriate health care professional.