Other active exercise techniques

Here we will cover some other exercise techniques you might like to explore, including Alexander techniquefeldenkraisresistance training or lifting weightspilates; and cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise.

Although studies involving people with cancer are limited, these therapies are generally accepted as being beneficial for improving strength, flexibility, mobility, fitness and general wellbeing. Some treatment centres will have exercise physiologists and physiotherapists who are specially trained in exercise interventions for people with medical conditions and injuries.

Alexander technique

Although not a type of exercise, this approach to balance and wellbeing in mind and body teaches people to be aware of the way they move and hold themselves. By changing the way people use their body, they can enhance their mental and physical functioning on many levels.


This method helps people become more aware of the way they move and how this contributes to, or compensates for, bad posture, pain and mobility restrictions. By gently retraining the mind and body to be open to new possibilities in movement, people find ways to become freer and more comfortable.

Resistance training or lifting weights

This active exercise technique is growing in popularity, particularly for people who have had treatment for breast cancer. Also called strength training, it involves the use of weights, weight machines at gyms and your own body weight to strengthen muscles.

Research shows that breast cancer survivors with lymphoedema who participate in a supervised weightlifting program are less likely to experience worsening symptoms than people who do not do strength training.


A program that encourages the mind to be aware of its control over the muscles. Using awareness of your breath and posture, Pilates helps to strengthen core muscles and correct postural habits that have contributed to pain, reduced mobility and poor coordination.

Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise

This has been shown to be highly beneficial for people with cancer. It has important benefits during treatment as it may reduce the onset of side effects and their severity, maintain mood and improve energy levels.

Cardiovascular exercise also helps people maintain muscle mass (strength). Studies are being conducted into its impact on recurrence (relapse) and survival in people with certain types of cancer.

Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for a free copy of Exercise for People Living with Cancer  – or download a copy from this page – and to find out about free exercise programs for people with cancer and their carers in your area.

YWCA Encore is a free eight-week program of gentle exercise and relaxation for people who have had breast cancer. Classes are available in all states and territories. Visit ywcaencore.org.au to learn more.

This information was last reviewed in May 2015
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