As a cancer patient or cancer survivor, it’s important to take care of yourself. Studies have shown that one of the best ways to do this is through physical activity. Of course, if you’re undergoing treatment, rigorous activity is not a good idea. But, regular moderate exercise, such as walking or strength training with light weights, can contribute greatly to your overall health and well-being. As always, talk with your physician about types of exercise that will be the safest for you specifically, and which types are not recommended.

The Benefits

Research has shown that cancer patients who incorporated regular exercise in their daily lives had 40% to 50% less fatigue, the primary complaint and side effect during treatment. The benefits of exercise include:

  • Improved cardiovascular function
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Increased joint flexibility
  • Bone protection
  • Overall mood elevation

Another benefit of regular exercise is weight control, which can decrease the risk of developing other cancers, such as colon or prostate cancer. Studies have shown that gaining weight during or after treatment can increase the risk of cancer recurrence.

Ideas for Exercise

Once you’ve been cleared for moderate exercise by your doctor, you might not know where to begin. Some great ways to incorporate an exercise routine include:

  • Stationary bicycling
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Strength training using light weights or resistance bands
  • Power walking (slightly faster pace than leisurely walking)
  • Stretching

Be sure you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. If you start to feel faint, stop and take a rest. Avoid staying out in the sun for too long-- this can increase dehydration and exhaustion.

Work towards 30 minutes a day of exercise, but of course your doctor will recommend what’s best for you. You will soon reap the benefits of regular exercise during and after treatment, and discover new ways to keep your body moving.