Can I Exercise During and After My Cancer Treatment?

Research has found that exercising can help you thrive during and after cancer. In fact, it’s been confirmed that exercise is among your best bet in fighting this dreaded disease. This is great news for those who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, as it can help improve your perception and attitude towards your condition.

According to Sara Mansfield, M.S. Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program certified cancer exercise trainer, physical activity helps you during and after your cancer treatment. Even if it makes common sense to let your body “rest” as you deal with treatments, it can also lead to functional decline. Moving more instead of moving less seems to be more beneficial to cancer patients.

Benefits of Exercise

You need to discuss your plans with your doctor before engaging in any strenuous physical activity. In any case, research studies support the idea that when you exercise while in treatment, you tend to feel better.

  • Prevents depression
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Increases energy
  • Boosts strength
  • Reduces pain

If you’re worried that exercising might pose a risk to you, researchers have reviewed more than 60 studies suggesting the contrary. They found that doing a combination of resistance and aerobic exercises improved health outcomes without posing a risk to your wellbeing.

It’s also been found that when a person exercises during treatment it changes the microenvironment of the tumor and encourages your immune system to develop stronger anti-tumor activity.

Moreover, exercise helps you manage your weight. Keep in mind that obesity and being overweight tends to put a person at an increased risk for cancer particularly liver, esophageal, breast and endometrial cancers. Being overweight has also been found to put a person at risk for cancer recurrence.

Exercise Guidelines

The exercise guidelines for people with cancer are the same as what’s recommended for everyone, and that is 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous- activity per week.

However, if you find it difficult to start with 150 minutes each week, don’t worry. So as long as you’re consistently being as active as you’re able to, you’re on the right path.

Experts recommend doing resistance training at least twice a week, including the use of resistance bands and weights. You start with the lightest weight available.

Stretch regularly so your body will stay flexible.

If you can, integrate some balance exercises in your daily routines. Yoga offers great balancing poses that are beginner friendly.

Post-Treatment Exercises

Once you’ve completed your cancer treatments, you may also want to get back to working out. Doctors say you can start as soon as your body is able to as a sound exercise program can lower the side effects of treatment including neuropathy, fatigue, weakness, decreased range of motion, lymphedema, and depression. That being said, do remember the following tips when exercising after your cancer treatment:

  1. Talk with your doctor. It’s important to discuss with your doctor any potential side effects you may have after treatment since this info can help shape your exercise plan to cater to your specific needs.
  1. Set clear goals. Having specific, achievable goals is important to help you monitor your progress and motivate you to keep going. Some people want to lose weight, others want to build muscle definition. You may also exercise to improve your mood or have a wider range of motion.
  1. Know when to exercise. Your fatigue and pain levels can vary from day to day. Track your energy level to find out what’s the best time for you to workout so you can be as efficient as possible.
  1. Be patient. Everyone heals and recovers differently so you need to have patience. You can slowly incorporate physical activities in your day to day life but don’t force yourself. As you feel better, you can then increase your physical activities.
  1. Walk. Walking can help you regain strength and also build endurance. Even walking 10-15 minutes a day is a good start and can greatly improve your mood and energy level.

And once you’re fully ready to level up your fitness activities, you can always enroll in a gym like BayClub and work with a personal trainer who can design a sound exercise program for you.

Category: Featured