Many doctors now encourage people with cancer to be as active as possible during treatment and recovery. Being active can reduce stress or anxiety, improve your mood and self-esteem, boost your energy, stimulate your appetite, help you sleep and help you regain your strength during recovery. Exercise can also help you reduce side effects like nausea, fatigue and constipation.
Exercise also helps you maintain a healthy body weight, which has many benefits. People who are able to maintain a healthy body weight are better able to handle treatment and its side effects, and they often recover faster. Studies have also shown that gaining weight during and after treatment can raise the risk of cancer coming back.
How much physical activity you can do during cancer treatment often depends on your overall health and physical condition, how you cope with treatment and what side effects you may have. Some people – for example, someone who has had breast surgery – may be given particular exercises to follow as part of their recovery.
You will need to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. This is true even if you exercised regularly before being diagnosed. After your doctor has said it’s okay, you might also meet with a physical therapist or another healthcare professional with experience in this area. They can help you develop an exercise program that is safe, effective and fun for you.
Although exercise is safe for many people, there are some exceptions. For example, if you’re at risk for infection or anemia you may not be able to exercise. This is why you need to talk to your doctor before starting.
Some general safety precautions for people with cancer include:
Each person’s exercise program is unique and should be based on what is safe and works for that person. Your goal should be to maintain endurance, strength and flexibility and to keep you able to do the things you want to do. There may be times when you don’t feel able to exercise. The goal is to be as active as you comfortably can be. These tips may help: